Sessions

Aims and objectives of the event

Networking and building a community of actors interested in Plant conservation, plant sciences, and involvement of local communities including (a) community-based approaches to plant and landscape management and conservation and (b) sustainable livelihoods.

  • Sharing experiences and success stories
  • Evaluating possible synergies for future initiatives of plant conservation in the Mediterranean

Conscious of the tight agenda of the participants and the cost associated with workshop organization, this “Mediterranean Plant Conservation Week” will gather together different events including:

  • Mediterranean plant conservation Workshop (2 days)
  • Field visit in surrounding IPA in Skadar lake and Long beach (1 day)
  • Capacity building sessions around key issues on plant conservation (1-2 days)
  • CEPF consultation process for update of Mediterranean Ecosystem profile with plant specialist (1 day)
  • Project IPAMed mid-term review session (1 day)

This two-day workshop focuses on strengthening networking surrounding, exchanging experiences and mutual learning on the topic of plant conservation in the Mediterranean Basin.

The content will be structured in following topics:

Session 1Integrating wild plants information for site management and conservation.
Session 2Cultural practices for conservation in the Mediterranean region.
Session 3Community-conserved areas in the future management of biodiversity, land and water in the Mediterranean.
Session 4Networking, building synergies and involving volunteers; and citizen science.

Integrating wild plants information for site management and conservation
Description

This session will explore how to translate plant information (species, populations, habitats, threats…) into concrete plant conservation actions, or even plant conservation planning.

Plant information at site level is often dispersed, unavailable, or out-of-date. In addition, translating existing wild plant information into decision-making is not a straightforward process. This session gathers examples from around the Mediterranean where the results of field survey studies or other plant data may successfully translate into site-based conservation actions.

The session will also  provide space for the elaboration of collaborative proposals, either from scientists, managers, local populations or civil society groups who wish to test innovative collaboration models.

It will explore possible avenues for collaboration between scientists and decision-makers at site level with a view to developing conservation policies and site based actions involving local populations.

In the context of this session, a “site” is defined according to its management scale: it includes not only IPA but also Protected Areas, community managed areas, or other management units.

Stories and cases of coordination between managers, scientists, and communities or local users will be presented.

Chair

Marcos Valderrábano. Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation of IUCN. Marcos.valderrabano@iucn.org; Bertrand de Montmollin bertrand@montmollin.me and Teresa Gil teresa.gil@iucn.org

Cultural practices for conservation in the Mediterranean region
Description

This session will explore the diversity of Cultural Practices of Conservation (CPCs) that benefit plant conservation in the Mediterranean region. Participants will share experiences in documenting, promoting and protecting CPCs in their areas of work.

Local and indigenous communities around the Mediterranean have shaped the landscapes for thousands of years. Many cultural practices and lifestyles that have a positive effect on nature and biodiversity still exist today, but they are by and large threatened. Practices such as mobile pastoralism, traditional agriculture and bioclimatic architecture protect and enhance biodiversity, maintain long-term productivity and sustain livelihoods. Mediterranean ecosystems have co-evolved with people: cultural practices in part are responsible for ecological heterogeneity and biodiversity patterns in this area. However, CPCs are rarely taken into account in conservation actions and planning.

This session will showcase examples of CPCs, as well as experiences of documenting and supporting CPCs, from around the Mediterranean region. In tandem with the subsequent session on Friday 28th October, discussions in this session will form the basis for the development of an initial roadmap for CPCs protection and inclusion in conservation action and planning at the regional level.

This session will explore the potential of CPCs for enhancing plant conservation in the Mediterranean and help create synergies between participants who will interact and share experiences. A combination of presentations by participants and hands-on exercises will allow the group to explore in depth the diversity of experiences and possibilities for supporting and strengthening CPCs in the region.

This session will be chaired by Liza Zogib, member of the Mediterranean Consortium for Nature and Culture and Irene Teixidor Toneu from University of Reading.

Chair

Global Diversity Foundation: Irene Teixidor Toneu i.teixidor-toneu@reading.ac.uk and Gary Martin gary@global-diversity.org

Community-conserved areas in the future management of biodiversity, land and water in the Mediterranean
Description

Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) are key landscape level practices for conservation. ICCAs ensure traditional livelihoods of rural populations whilst conserving biocultural diversity. Examples of ICCAs in the Mediterranean include agdals, which are socially-, spiritually- and culturally-embedded traditional management systems for conserving pasture and other resources that are prevalent in rural areas throughout the Maghreb. However, ICCAs in the Mediterranean region are poorly understood and scientific research on their structure, role, potential and current challenges has only just begun.

Moreover, while CPCs have been discussed and proposed as useful tools for conservation in the conservation and social science literature for almost 3 decades, to date there has been little effective integration of these practices in everyday conservation planning and action, including their formal recognition and acceptance by government agencies. This session will explore the challenges and opportunities for this integration.

In this session we will discuss the role of ICCAs as cultural practices for landscape-level conservation. We will also debate how CPCs should be recognized and integrated in conservation actions and planning whilst respecting communities’ rights to decide upon their knowledge and practices. We will explore the challenges involved in this integration through a hands-on exercise. The workshop will conclude with a collective brainstorming session with a view to developing initial ideas for a Roadmap for integrating CPCs in conservation action and planning at the regional level in the Mediterranean.

This session will be chaired by the Global Diversity Foundation.

Chair

Global Diversity Foundation: Irene Teixidor Toneu i.teixidor-toneu@reading.ac.uk and Gary Martin gary@global-diversity.org

Networking, building synergies and involving volunteers; and citizen science
Description

On-the-ground conservation entails involving local stakeholders and local communities in conservation actions and advocacy. Such a bottom-up approach presents its own challenges and solutions. This session will explore what these challenges are, how they differ within a local context, and what has worked in different areas.

The aim of this session is to share experiences in creating synergies with and engaging local communities in conservation advocacy and conservation actions. This session will explore how civil society groups such as NGOs create collaborations to promote conservation in a local context.

The approach will be to provide a space for sharing of experiences from groups that have engaged in such work for a long time e.g. Plantlife, IPAMed partners. Local stakeholders such as student groups, art groups will also be invited to share their experiences in such collaborations.

Poster communications

Poster will be displayed during all the event.

Capacity building sessions around key issues on plant conservation will take place the 24th and 25th of October.

There will be three capacity session focused on:

CEPF consultation process to update of Mediterranean Ecosystem Profile incorporating the suggestions of participants will take place the 25th of October.

Plant conservation planning

The abundant wealth of plant diversity, an estimated 391,000 vascular species (plus about 20,000 lower plants) (RBG Kew, 2016), provides the primary production for all life on earth. Yet these critical resources for continued human survival are threatened by human mismanagement of the environment; plant diversity at the habitat, species, and genetic levels is threatened to a degree never seen previously in our planet’s history. Brummitt et al. (2015) estimate 20% of plant species are threatened with extinction and another 10% are near threatened using IUCN Red List criteria.

Plants are particularly vulnerable to climate change as: migration is slow; local adaption may not be able to keep pace with the changing environment; many have long generation times; and there is limited knowledge of each species auto- and synecology.

The aim of plant conservation is to maintain the ecosystem, taxonomic and genetic diversity of plants and the interrelationships between plants, other organisms and their environment. The development of conservation programmes aims to enhance or maintain diversity and halt habitat, species and genetic extinction or erosion. To achieve this goal, involves a clear understanding of the diversity and processes that occur and planning and implementation of practical techniques to achieve taxonomic and genetic stability.

Conservationists, when undertaking a particular conservation planning exercise, use their knowledge of genetics, ecology, geography, taxonomy and many other disciplines to understand and manage the biodiversity they wish to conserve. To conserve the maximum range of diversity found in a species, populations of the species are likely to require protection in diverse locations and in each of these the habitat management set in place that maintains or enhances diversity within and between the target populations.

Plant conservation planning is distinct from other biodiversity conservation planning in the sheer breadth of the taxonomic diversity and the largely unknown range of genetic diversity being targeted.

On the positive side, good taxonomic checklists and distributional data is available, for at least developed country’s flora, and at a global level centres of diversity have been identified so Species Distribution and Climate Resilience modelling can be used to facilitate conservation planning.

Even though little is understood of patterns of genetic diversity within taxa, techniques such as ecogeographic land characterization (Parra-Quijano et al., 2012) and gap analysis are employing ecogeographic distribution as a proxy for genetic diversity and are increasingly used to plan the genetic conservation of plants. Due to the breadth of diversity included planning often involves the conservation of multiple taxa in multiple locations employing a range of in situ (formal protected area / extra PA in situ / on- farm / home gardens) and ex situ (seed storage / in vitro storage / DNA storage / eld gene bank / botanic garden) techniques. For many plant species, particularly those with known socioeconomic value, there is an intimate link between plant genetic diversity, conservation and utilisation.

The model includes a series of steps starting with the full range of genetic diversity for the plant species or group of species to be conserved, through the planning of conservation action, the implementation of the conservation action and leading finally through to characterisation and evaluation as a precursor to utilisation.

The application of this model is at the core of food security, poverty alleviation and the well-being for humankind. As the primary production for all life on earth, plants have a high ecosystem services and economic value, yet their loss or decline in diversity is likely to have severe economic, social and ethical consequences for humankind, so it is critical we prioritize their e cient and e ective conservation planning, only then can we implement those plans and ensure continued and sustainable utilisation.

Specifically, the Plant Conservation Planning Workshop will address: an overview of plant conservation planning; how Important Plant Areas may act as a tool for plant conservation; taxonomic and geographic prioritization for conservation action; ecogeographic surveys and gap analysis techniques; species distribution modelling, climate change and conservation planning; an introduction to an on-line plant conservation planning toolkit; working with stakeholder communities; the content of conservation strategies and action plans, as well as local, national, regional and global level conservation planning.

From ex situ to in situ conservation

Description

The preservation of biodiversity represents a well-established priority in global environmental policies and is a key component of the main international strategic plans (i.e. the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and, at European level, the ‘‘Habitats Directive”). However the loss of biodiversity is constantly increasing mainly by the continuous and growing human-related impact (i.e. pollution, global change, industrialization, urbanization and consequent “waste of land”).

The Mediterranean Basin hosts a flora of around 25,000–30,000 flowering plants and ferns, c. 50% of them are endemic plants; in particular the aisled geographically or ecologically territories, such as islands, islets, and mountains, constitute the main centres of plant diversity. However, this plant richness is severely threatened and it deserves particular attention in a conservation point of view.

Ex situ strategies (i.e. conservation of species outside their natural habitats), to date, represents one of the most e ective ways to conserve plant diversity. Germplasm preservation include seed banks, pollen and tissue storage, vegetative cloning and maintaining whole plants, which allows preserving large amounts of genetic material in a small space. Optimistically, ex situ conservation could reach significant levels in the coming years (at least in some territories worldwide) and with accessions representative of natural variability. However, the main question is how to use these accessions for future conservation activities (if necessary).

In situ strategies (i.e. conservation of species in their natural habitats) is considered the most appropriate way of conserving biodiversity and the preservation of the areas where populations of species naturally exist is an underlying condition for their conservation. The importance of in situ conservation of endangered plant species has been highlighted by the Target 7 of the GSPC for 2020 which scheduled that at least 75% of known threatened plant species should be conserved in situ.

Conversely, despite the importance of the in situ measures, their full application remain far from being widely achieved. To prevent the extinction risk of threatened species and to improve their conservation status, translocations have become increasingly important in management worldwide and they represent the ideal scenario although it is not often practicable. Translocations (including population reinforcement, reintroduction and introduction) aim to enhance population viability, for instance by increasing population size and/or genetic diversity. The potentiality of translocations to contribute to the recovery of threatened species is particularly significant when is a part of integrated ex situ and in situ conservation activities. In particular when seeds stored ex situ are the starting point for producing transplants to be reintroduced in the natural environment; the strong integration between in situ and ex situ conservation strategies is the emerging tools in the conservation of plant diversity .

However, many limits remain in the implementation of these conservation actions, such as the high both economic and time costs, the availability of the optimal site, the dificulties on the implementation of these actions on private areas and the high uncertainty of success principally connected to natural stochastic events. Thus, considering these several limitations, it is often necessary to identify other active management measures, such as the fences erection (to prevent grazing and to protect the most critical life-cycle stage for population survival) or to remove alien invasive plants, or to plan a low-cost translocation project. Although the active in situ conservation actions are the best way to conserve natural plant populations, very few experiences has been done in the Mediterranean territories compared to what is necessary to prevent the extinction risk of many plant species. Thus, taking into account the limited available economical funds and human resources, the implementation of the active conservation measures will be the first purposes.

Livestock farming for plant conservation: opportunities, challenges and key elements for success

Description

This farming activity is frequently considered to be a threat for conservation, particularly in areas where poor livestock management and overgrazing prevail, whereas, in other places, conservation efforts are made to preserve livestock grazing, particularly when the abandonment of pasture use is putting valuable habitats and species at risk. This contrast is particularly visible when we compare situations found in the northern and southern rims of the Mediterranean.

In Europe, this type of farming is frequently welcome -and even requested by conservation managers- in areas where targeted grazing can play a valuable role (e.g., wild re prevention or control of invasive species) and more generally, where they are considered to be “High Nature Value farming systems” (HNV), which help preserve threatened species, valuable farmland habitats and essential ecological processes.

The first block of the workshop will be devoted to presenting the HNV farming concept and share experiences from areas where grazing management is being encouraged.

In Northern Africa and part of the East of the Mediterranean, the challenge is completely different. Poverty in rural areas, linked with a much higher dependence on local natural resources for subsistence, maintains a very high “farming pressure” in much of the region. Indeed, the combination of collecting fuelwood, ploughing and grazing intensively produce important impacts on many Important Plant Areas. Addressing these issues calls for tools like the Ecosystem-based approach that IUCN supports, which will be presented and discussed in the second block of this workshop.

In this integrative approach, local people and their use of natural areas are carefully taken into account when developing conservation plans. In the workshop, we will discuss some experiences where alliances for conservation with local populations are being established.

Participants are expected to contribute actively to the workshop with their own experience, successes and difficulties, so as to have lively exchanges on the subject. Inspiring success stories of collaboration between livestock farmers and conservation managers in Mediterranean designated areas are particularly welcome. The overall focus should be set on how challenges have been or are currently dealt with, so that the final debate of the workshop leads to identifying some of the key tools and strategies we all need to address pastoral farming issues and better achieve conservation goals.

Chair: contact details of person coordinating the session

Jabier Ruiz. Commission on Ecosystem Management (CEM-IUCN) and European Forum on Nature Conservation and Pastoralism (EFNCP) jabier@efncp.org

Field visit

A one day field visit in surrounding IPA in Scadar lake and Long beach will take place the Thursday 28th October.

IPAMed Project mid-term review session

A IPAMed mid-term review session will take place the last day of the week, the 29th October. This is a close event for IPAMed partners. An agenda of this session will be sent to all the partners of the project in due time.

Networking and motivation

This intense and diverse week will allow everybody to meet people working in plant conservation around the Mediterranean region being an opportunity to exchange experiences, to learn from others, to discuss about the challenges plant conservation is facing and to feed our passion and motivation to work together for ensuring the conservation of wild plants and habitats for people in the Mediterranean.

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