Friday, September 30, 2011

ATP begins propagation of rare & endangered plants & fruit trees…

By Armine Tokhmakhyan & Jason Sohigian

The International Union for Conservation of Nature has been publishing its Red List of Threatened Species since 1963. The IUCN is the world’s main authority on the conservation status of plant and animal species, and the Red List is published periodically as the most comprehensive inventory available.

The Ministry of Nature Protection released its own two-volume “Red Book of Plants and Animals of the Republic of Armenia” in 2010. “The country’s attractiveness and public welfare are directly linked with the splendor and richness of its natural heritage,” writes Minister of Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan in the preface. “The production of the Red Book is another step forward in the preservation and recovery of the region’s biodiversity.”

There are approximately 3,600 plant species in Armenia, and 123 are endemic or found nowhere else on the planet. According to the authors, these plants become endangered because of deforestation, the overuse of resources like water, and development of land which provides habitats for plants and animals. The new Red Book includes information about 452 plant and 40 fungus species that are rare along with 223 plant species that are in danger of extinction.

“In response to the concern over the loss of native plants, Armenia Tree Project has a policy of growing only indigenous trees in its three nurseries,” explains Nursery Program Manager Samvel Ghandilyan. “In recent years many native species have either vanished or drastically reduced in numbers. Native and naturalized species possess traits that make them more likely to thrive under local conditions, which is why ATP has made this a priority in our nursery and tree planting programs.”

“ATP started to pay special attention to the propagation of endangered plants at our nursery in Karin. These include nine trees and shrubs that are registered as rare in the Red Book and two that are in danger of extinction,” Ghandilyan says. “These are Alpine Maple (Acer thrautvetteri) and Halfsphere Rose (Rosa gaenuspherica).”