Oman botanic garden highlights unique biodiversity

Muscat: Oman Botanic Garden in Al Khoud in Seeb, affiliated to the Diwan of Royal Court, is the first of its kind in the Sultanate showing the unique biodiversity of the Sultanate of Oman.

The garden is located between the mountains and valleys of Al Khoud, which is famous for its many date-palms, trees, and fresh flora of the Aflaj; ancient irrigation system or water channels.

Oman Botanic Garden is different from the other botanic gardens in the Sultanate.  It is interested in growing local plants only and in environments similar to the nature of their origin.  The garden is also unique as it hosts the largest plant complex in the Middle East.

In addition to the wild plants in the garden, the workers will plant most of the traditional field crops cultivated in oases in the Sultanate’s regions.  The garden will provide an important and rich database of plant names, their places around the world and breeding methods.  It will also contribute to research related to the conservation of these plants.

The garden also seeks to document data on the use of these plants in various areas of daily life, as this is an important demand and a pressing need for all researchers and students at the local and global levels.

The establishment of all facilities of the garden has not yet been completed.  The construction process is proceeding at an accelerated pace.  After completion, the garden is expected to host more than 1407 species of local plants that will be planted in simulated environments of their presence in the Omani nature in various governorates of the Sultanate.

Dr Khalid bin Abdulaziz al Farsi, senior botanist in the Oman Botanic Garden said, “The garden has a total area of 420 hectares, or 4200 square kilometers”.

He added, “The site of the garden was chosen because there is a great diversity of vegetation in this area where there is a large group of natural Omani plants and trees”.

He said that work on the establishment of this garden began years ago and its establishment will be in multiple stages.  After completing the final stage of the garden, it will include visitors center, Al Jabal Al Akhdar or green mountain environment, and a department on environment of the Governorate of Dhofar mountains, a section on environment of the valleys of Oman in various governorates, a department of Nursery, a department of Laboratories, a department of researchers and students, as well as the administrative and service departments. Housing for researchers coming from outside the Governorate of Muscat and outside the Sultanate will be established.  Residence will be on a temporary basis.

The garden will also include hundreds of diverse trees: fruit trees, small bushes, floral and aromatic plants, natural herbs used for Omani traditional remedies for various organic diseases and various pharmaceutical industries worldwide.

Al-Farsi affirmed that the main objective of establishing this park is to set up a broad database of all Omani plants and trees discovered and scientifically documented in the name of the Sultanate, reaching about (1407) species.  Officials  of the Diwan of Royal Court have recently formed a team of Omani researchers to undertake field visits to various Omani and wildland areas, as well as plains and valleys locally known as the Oman Botanical Environments, and to meet older men and women interested in this area, as well as recording and documenting each plant and tree, showing their characteristics, uses and diseases that are treated by the plants and medicines that are manufactured and then documenting and saving them in electronic devices in the garden.  The team managed up to now documenting more than 75 percent of various Omani plants and trees.

The garden maintains continuous cooperation in the field of research and studies, as well as sharing expertise and information with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, The Research Council (TRC), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), Muscat Municipality and Nizwa University, in addition to its periodic cooperation with the Arab and international organisations.

Despite the incomplete stages of the final stages of the garden, it has temporary administrative and service offices.  The garden receives visitors from time to time from inside and outside the Sultanate.  The garden’s management look forward to increase the number of visitors and tourists in the future after the completion of all facilities.

Oman Observer

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