Palestine 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:
MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF PALESTINE AND THE MAIN THREATS
Palestine is at the crossroads of three continents (Africa – Asia – Europe) so is influenced by various geographical eco-zones: the Iranian-Turanian zone (steppe), the Sahara-Arab zone (desert), and the Mediterranean basin. It is even penetrated by the tropical Sudanese zone. This location between Eurasia and Africa makes it a key crossing-point for migratory birds, and it has a rich variety of plant and animal species. Zohary and Feinbrun Dothan (1966-1978) recorded over 4,000 species of Palestinian flora, of which 2,483 are believed to exist in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (Piales, 1996), belonging to 700 genera and 114 families. 1,558 of them are concentrated in the Mediterranean zone and 600 in the desert. Only 6% of the plants are endemic. 43% of the endemic species are common, 27.5% are infrequent and 25.6% are very rare.
The following table shows the breakdown of genera and species amongst the most frequent families:
Source: Flora of Palestine (PEnA, 1999)
The phytogeographical regions of Palestine are as follows:
- TheMediterranean zone is covered with evergreen woodlands in whichQuercuscalliprinos and Pistacia terebinthus predominate. Such woodland formations also include common oak,Aleppo pines (Pinushalepensis) andcarob (Ceratoniasiliqua) and mastictrees (Pistacia lentiscus). Most of these woodlands have now been destroyed and these specieshave been replaced by others such as Sarcopoteriumspinosum,Cistusspp. Calycotome villosa, Carthamus tenuis and Ononis leiospermum.
- TheIranian Turanian zone (eastern steppes) covers the eastern part ofthe West Bank. The main species are Ziziphuslotus, Retama raetam, Artemisia sieberi and Ballota undulata.
- TheSaharan-Arab zone is desert, and the main species are Zygophylletumdumosi and Suadetumasphaltica.
- Thezone under Sudanese influence stretches over the Dead Sea and theJordan Valley. The main species are Haloxylonsalicetum, Phoenix dactylifera, Ziziphus spina-christi, Acaciaradianna and Acacia tortilis.
The decline in biodiversity in Palestine is largely the result of fast development and modernisation, population growth, global warming, atmospheric and water pollution, the incorrect introduction of non-native animals and plants and the destruction of habitats. In addition to the environmental problems that affect the world in general, Palestine also faces special challenges. The Israeli occupation over the last 30 years is largely responsible for the destruction of habitats and biodiversity in Palestine.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION
Today, 19 nature reserves covering 16,300 hectares (of a total of 43 covering 33,000 ha) have been transferred to the Palestinian Authority. Most of them are located in eastern parts, and many are overlapped by military training areas. Another 3% of the total surface area of the West Bank (17,000 ha) was declared a nature reserve at the Sharm el Sheik exhibition.
Ex-situ conservation of genetic plant material is laid down as a priority in the “National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Palestine” (Palestinian Environmental Authority (PenA), 1999).
The Ministry of Agriculture contributes to ex-situ conservation of genetic resources from fruit trees by setting up facilities to carry out research on fruit trees suitable for the region. The Ministry of the Environment has contributed to ex-situ conservation by creating the Jericho Botanic Garden.
The University of Al-Quds has a long history of activities and facilities for the conservation of biodiversity in Palestine. There are also national and international non-governmental bodies working in this field through research centres, botanic gardens and seed banks in the country, such as the Biodiversity Environmental and Research Centre (BERC) and the Andalusian Garden, promoted by Spain’s Islamic Culture Foundation (FUNCI).
Centers of plant diversity
Palestine is located on the east side of the Mediterranean Sea at latitudes 29 and 33 and longitudes 35 and 39. Its total surface area is estimated at 516,000 ha, of which 150,000 ha in the West Bank and 16,000 in the Gaza Strip are currently being cultivated.
There are 5 main relief and climate regions in Palestine:
- JordanValley Region, stretching in the south from the western bank of theriver to the far north of the Dead Sea over about 70 km. Thealtitude varies between 200-300 m below sea level to about 100(north) – 200 m (south) above sea level. The climate issub-tropical and annual rainfall is between 20 and 100 mm.
- Easternhills, stretching along the eastern part of the West Bank, to theeast of Jenin. The altitude varies between 800 m above sea level to150 m below. The climate is semi-dry, with low annual rainfall(200-400mm).
- CentralHighlands.This is the largest part of the West Bank, stretching over 120 kmand including Jenin (north) and Hebron (south). It is mountainous,with some parts reaching over 1,000 m above sea level. Averageannual rainfall is 400 – 700 mm in the mountains.
- CoastalRegion, covering the districts of Jenin andTulkarem. This region is about 60 km long and 1-3 km wide and thealtitude is 100-300 m above sea level. Annual average rainfall isabout 600 mm.
- GazaStrip, covering 365 square kilometres. This includes different soiltypes and sand dunesand lies along the coast in the western part of the territory. Aconsiderable proportion of this area has been reclaimed for thecultivation of citrus fruits and vegetables. It is a productive areaused mainly for fruits, field crops and vegetables. Average annualrainfall is about 300 mm.
Palestine 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