Libya is a country situated in the scope of Med-O-Med program, geographical and culturally. That is why and with the objective to use them as reference for the different research and catalogues created by the program, that we present this data for the country in different subjects.

Biodiversity conservation data


The country’s vascular flora comprises 1,750 species of 744 genera and 118 families (Qaisar and El Gadi, 1994). Analysis shows that there are 4 main families represented by over 100 species each, namely, Asteraceae, with 237 species, Poaceae, with 233 species, Fabaceae with 208 species and Brassicaceae with almost 100 species. The other main families with 50-100 species each are Abiaceae, Chenopodiaceae, Lariaceae and Boraginaceae. Other families represented by less than 50 species each include Liliaceae (40 species), Scrophylariaceae (35 species), Euphorbiaceae (32 species), Ramnculaceae (28 species), Rubiaceae (28 species), Geraniaceae (24 species), Cistaceae (23 species) and Solanaceae (20 species).

There is a fairly low level of endemism in Libya, because only about 75 taxons (4%) are endemic. The areas of Jabal Al Akhdar, the Coastal Strip, the central part of the Sahara and the south of Libya including Jabal Al Awaynat, Tibesti and the Ghat Plateau (Qaisar and El Gadi), are home to 50% of the country’s endemic species.

Forests are to be found in the area of Jabal Al Akhdar in the north-east, comprising the following: moist forest, with Quercus calliprinos, Laurus nobilis, Arbutus pavarii, Olea europaea, Ceratonia siliqua, Quercus coccifera, Cupressus sempervirens; secondary moist forest, with Juniper phoenicea, Pinus halepensis, Olea europaea y Arbutus pavarii; forests in semi-arid regions, with Sarcopoterrium spinosium, Pinus halepensis, Juniper phoenicae, Pistacia lentiscus, Rhus tripartitum, Periploca laevigata; and forests to the south of Jabal Al Akhdar, with Rhus tripartitum, Pistacia lentiscus, Periploca laevigata.

There is very good documentation on medicinal flora (El Gadi and Bshaina, 1992; Kotb, 1985). The most important species are: Achillea Santolina, Ajuga iva, Alhagi maurorum, Andrcymbium gramineum, Artemisia arborescens, Artemisia herba-alba, Calotropis procera, Capparis spinosa, Citrullus colocynthus, cuscuta planiflora, Cymbopogon schoenanthus, Cynomorium coccineum, Datura stramonium, Efedra alata, Globularia alypum, Hyoscyamus albus, Juniperus phoenicea, Marrubium vulgare, Myrtus communis, Peganum harmala, Ricinus communis, Rosmarinus officinalis, Ruta graveolens, Salvia officinalis, Teucrium polium, Thymus capitatus, Urginea maritima, Urtica urens, Withania somnifera and Ziziphus lotus.

The plants that are most used locally for ornamental purposes are Astragalus sp., Ceratonia siliqua, Cistus sp. Colchicum ritchii, Dianthus barbatus, Iris germanica, Ocimum basilicum, Pelargonium odoratissimum, Retama reteam, Rosa Gallica, Rosmarinus officinalis and Salvia officinalis.

Forestry legislation is not always enforced. As a result, many of the country’s forests have suffered extreme degradation, mostly because of poor administration, with people using forests indiscriminately as a source of firewood or for farming. The rate of destruction has been speeded up by the introduction of mechanisation. Many native species, such as cypress(Cupressus sempervirens), pine (Pinus halepensis), oak (Quercus coccifera and Quercus ilex), and pistachio (Pistacia atlantica) are in danger of extinction.


In-situ conservation

Conservation activities began in Libya in 1956 with the creation of the Ministry of Agriculture’s Forestry Department. This was very active in projects aiming to control desertification, fix sand dunes and create parks and reserves. The following table lists protected areas in Libya with their size and location.

Parksand Reserves Surfacearea(ha) Location
BirAyad Reserve 12,000 150km south-west of Trípoli
HieshaJadida Reserve 100,000 300km east of Trípoli
AbuGhilan Park 4,500 60km south of Trípoli
SurmanPark 1,450 51km west of Trípoli
GharabouliPark 8,500 60km east of Trípoli
WadiEl- Kouf Park 8,000 1.200km east ofTrípoli
Total 134,450ha

Source: Khatabi, K. (1993)

Ex-situ conservation

Although there are no national germplasm collections in Libya, germplasm has been collected since 1960 in collaboration with ICARDA, IBPGR and international institutions in western countries (Istituto del Germoplasma in Bari, Italy and CSIRO, Australia).

The country has no facilities for storage and all the germplasm available at the Agricultural Research Centre is maintained by propagation and cyclical regeneration. Some duplicates of the collected material are conserved in international germplasm banks, such as those at the ICARDA in Syria, the Istituto del Germoplasma in Bari, Italy and CSIRO in Australia. Today, over 5,000 items are kept by the Agricultural Research Centre in glass bottles and paper bags at room temperature without any system for moisture control. Great efforts are being made by the Centre to keep these items. There is therefore a great need for a germplasm bank to preserve the current stock of genetic resources and to provide a good source of seeds for research activities..

For the study of vegetative reproduction, mostly fruit trees, there are small plots in research stations associated with the Centre. It seems that Libya’s main research centre is the Sidi Mesri Research Centre.

At present there seems to be no Botanic Garden in Libya. However, the Botany Department in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Al Fateh has a good herbarium.

Centers of plant diversity

Physical geography data

Libya lies on the Mediterranean in north Africa at 18°33° North and 9°25° East. It has 4.5 million inhabitants and the total surface area is 1,759,540 square kilometres, of which over 90% are desert. Most farming activities are limited to a long, narrow strip along the Mediterranean coast.

The predominant climate conditions are typical of the Mediterranean region, and are characterised by variability and unpredictability. Rainfall is irregular in quantity, frequency and distribution. The ecoregions are as follows:

  • Coastalstrip: a narrow strip between 5 and 25 kilometres wide along thecoast. To the south and west, however,this plain stretches to more than 100 kilometres, forming thearc-shaped Jeffara plain. Average rainfall is 200-250 mm.
  • Lowmountains(Jabals): the eastern part is known as Jabal Al Akhdar (250-600 mm),and the western part is Jabal Al Gharbi (200 and 300 mm).
  • Semi-desertareas:to the south and parallel to the Jabal regions. Average rainfallvaries from 50 to 150 mm.
  • Desert:sterile sand dunes. Rainfall is almost non-existent.

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Libya is a country situated in the scope of Med-O-Med program, geographical and culturally. That is why and with the objective to use them as reference for the different research and catalogues created by the program, that we present this data for the country in different subjects. This post is available in: English Español