Oman’s plant life focus of RGS lecture in London

Muscat, Sept 14 – For the fourth year in a row, Oman’s natural heritage, conservation and environment, take the stage at the prestigious Royal Geographical Society in London. This year, the focus is on the plant life of the Sultanate, and the lecture series is entitled, ‘The Flora of the Sultanate of Oman,’ with prominent guest lecturers from the Oman Botanic Garden, Dr Annette Patzelt, Dr Laila al Harthi and Dr Khalid al Farsi, all significantly acknowledged in their fields of expertise, internationally.
On October 23, these scientists will speak about the pioneering work of the new Oman Botanic Garden, an important conservation project that will capture the imagination of the world. The lecture series is organised by the Oman Natural Heritage Lecture UK Group with support form the Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal Court, Oman, the Anglo-Omani Society, Geographical magazine and the London Speaker Bureau.
Dr Roderic Dutton, Sean Nelson, Rob Baldwin and Dr Nigel Winser, have come together each year to arrange and promote this lecture series previously featuring such diverse topics as the iconic Snow Leopard, Arabian Thar, Nubian Ibex, Aflaj Conservation, Turtles, Dolphins and Whales, all presented by passionate Omani scientists and researchers, to sell out audiences.
Dr Winser indicated that since its inception in 2016, the Oman Natural Heritage Lectures have become one of the most eagerly anticipated natural history events on the calendar, for all enthusiasts, professionals, environmentalists and conservationists. It is an event too, that acknowledges the significant commitment to scientific research in the diverse and unique environment that is Oman.
Work in progress
OBG is currently under development in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. The vision of OBG is that “the Oman Botanic Garden as a new world-class botanic garden conserves the unique botanical and ethnobotanical heritage of Oman and to ensure that the flora, heritage and ecosystems of Oman are valued by all”. The garden is the first of its kind in representing the entire native flora of the country, and it will be the largest in the Arabian Peninsula and among the largest in the world.
The garden will be the first in the whole world to grow only native plants of the country. Very few of the Omani native plants have been in propagation before the OBG project. Therefore, development of such a garden, from scratch, gave the OBG staff the chance to explore the entire country habitats in order to collect plant materials and document data about the diverse native flora. Hundreds of field trips have been organised to collect seeds, cutting and even whole plants when required. The overall plant collection in the garden includes the living collection in the nursery, seeds in the seed bank and voucher’s collection to be preserved in the OBG herbarium.
Research centre
The garden will act as a significant plant research centre in Oman and the middle east. It is currently conducting researches in botanical and horticultural fields. The current research areas include the flora and vegetation data collection, seed propagation, plants cultivation, pests and diseases, ethnobotany and in the future the garden will expand its research field to include areas such as plant genetics researches. The plant data collection and documentation throughout the whole stages of the garden work is significant in filling the gap of botanical knowledge of the country.
The work of the Oman Botanic Garden will form a principal role in the global strategy for biodiversity conservation like the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Conservation at OBG is not only focused on ex-situ strategies, in-situ conservation also plays a key role. As part of OBG’s in-situ initiatives the team established ‘a plant rescue project’ whereby mature trees and large shrubs were translocated from sites being destroyed for road construction. Hundreds of mature plants were rescued and brought to the garden were they currently thrive, awaiting planting in the core garden. In-situ conservation is further utilized through the germination of seed and establishment of native trees in their natural habitats. This is exemplified in the study of regeneration and establishment of Juniper trees in the high-altitude mountains of northern Oman – the project started in 2013 and continues to this day. This presentation will take you through this and many other examples of OBG’s novel and exciting horticultural research and practices.

For details visit Eventbrite: www.omanflora.eventbrite.co.uk