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Reinforcing cooperation between the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan and ERA

Final Report Summary - BOT-ERA (Reinforcing cooperation between the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan and ERA)

Executive Summary:
The overall aim of the BOT-ERA project was to more closely integrate the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan (RBG) into the European Research Area through capacity building and strategic collaboration with three excellent European research and innovation organisations:

1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (Kew),
2. University of Birmingham (Bham), and
3. Innoveo Consulting (Innoveo).

The focus of the capacity building was on three key botanical research topics:

a) Plants and Seed Conservation,
b) Genetic Resource Diversity and Biotechnology, and
c) Utilisation and Access Benefit Sharing.

The capacity building activities involved twinning and training of RBG researchers focused on the three research topics as well as several FP7 programmes (e.g. Marie Curie). Also, it involved the development of a Wild Socioeconomic Plant Conservation Strategy for Jordan and an RBG organisation strategy.

The main results of the project were the following:

i. RBG and Bham, together with Jordanian stakeholders, produced a “Wild Socioeconomic Plant Conservation Strategy for Jordan”.
ii. RBG and Kew produced a “Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Jordan”, a comprehensive quantitative analysis of Jordan’s flora, with data about 2,600 plant species in 907 genera belonging to 114 families.
iii. RBG and Kew produced the Jordan Plant red list, Vol. 1 (1,288 pages). The Red list identified the status of wild plant species of group one (1028 species) according to IUCN categories.
iv. The international scientific conference “Conservation and Use of Socio-Economically Important, Wild Plants in the Fertile Crescent” was successfully held in April 2014 in Amman, Jordan. It attracted presenters from across Europe and West Asia. This conference covered the significance of BOT-ERA, plant conservation governance and management, plant cryopreservation techniques, dry land agrobiodiversity, regional Red List assessment for Jordan plant varieties, and developing and implementing a wild socioeconomic plant conservation strategy for Jordan.
v. Kew led seven training workshops on plant and seed conservation, genetic resource diversity and biotechnology, and utilisation and access benefit sharing. Held at Kew and in Jordan, these workshops involved over 150 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
vi. Bham conducted five training workshops on plant and seed conservation. Principally held in Jordan, these workshops involved over 100 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
vii. Innoveo held four training workshops about FP7/Horizon 2020 programmes - relevant to botanical research – involving over 80 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
viii. Dr. Florent Engelmann (IRD) delivered three training workshops on plant cryopreservation techniques in Jordan. About 40 Jordanians participated in the training.
ix. A BOT-ERA Evaluation Report was produced that conducted an extensive SWOT analysis of the RBG organisation.
x. A BOT-ERA Strategy Report was produced that defined goals for RBG with respect to the organisation’s mission & value system, critical mass, progressive management, human resource management, creativity and innovation, and funding.
xi. RBG promoted extensively the BOT-ERA project during numerous EU events (e.g. Final conference of FP7 MIRA in Marrakesh in January 2013).
Project Context and Objectives:
Jordan is rich in flora with over 2500 species including 363 species of vascular plants. It is situated at the Southern edge of the Fertile Crescent and is a hotspot for crop, crop wild relative and medicinal plant diversity of vital global importance. However, due to pressures associated with desertification, many of Jordan's plant habitats are threatened or on the verge of extinction. About 35% of all Jordanian flora can be found at the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan (RBG). RBG is the only botanical garden in Jordan. It was established by the Ministry of Environment to implement the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity and its mission is to conserve regional biodiversity on the habitat level. RBG is well networked with agricultural, environmental and tourism organisations throughout Jordan and the surrounding region and acts as a natural focal point for botanical and conservation research.

Via the BOT-ERA project, RBG aimed to become more closely integrated with ERA through capacity building and strategic collaboration with three excellent European research and innovation organisations: Royal Botanic Gardens - Kew, University of Birmingham, and Innoveo Consulting. The focus of the capacity building was on three key botanical research topics: A) Plants and Seed Conservation, B) Genetic Resource Diversity and Biotechnology, and C) Utilisation and Access Benefit Sharing. These are research topics highly relevant to the FP7 KBBE and Environment. The BOT-ERA project lasted 36 months and was implemented by a dedicated team of experienced RBG researchers. It was overseen by a steering committee involving the consortium partners plus members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment, NCARE, ICARDA and Royal Marine Conservation Society of Jordan.
Project Results:
i. RBG and Bham, together with Jordanian stakeholders, produced a “Wild Socioeconomic Plant Conservation Strategy for Jordan”.
ii. RBG and Kew produced a “Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Jordan”, a comprehensive quantitative analysis of Jordan’s flora, with data about 2,600 plant species in 907 genera belonging to 114 families.
iii. RBG and Kew produced the Jordan Plant red list, Vol. 1 (1,288 pages). The Red list identified the status of wild plant species of group one (1028 species) according to IUCN categories.
iv. A BOT-ERA Evaluation Report was produced that conducted an extensive SWOT analysis of the RBG organisation.
v. A BOT-ERA Strategy Report was produced that defined goals for RBG with respect to the organisation’s mission & value system, critical mass, progressive management, human resource management, creativity and innovation, and funding.
Potential Impact:
The BOT-ERA project enabled a much deeper research cooperation between RBG and the European partners and a substantial increase in RBG's knowledge in three key botanical research topics: a) Plants and seed conservation, b) Genetic resource diversity and biotechnology, and c) Utilisation and access benefit sharing. The main dissemination activities of the BOT-ERA project were the following:

i. The international scientific conference “Conservation and Use of Socio-Economically Important, Wild Plants in the Fertile Crescent” was successfully held in April 2014 in Amman, Jordan. It attracted presenters from across Europe and West Asia. This conference covered the significance of BOT-ERA, plant conservation governance and management, plant cryopreservation techniques, dry land agrobiodiversity, regional Red List assessment for Jordan plant varieties, and developing and implementing a wild socioeconomic plant conservation strategy for Jordan.
ii. Kew led seven training workshops on plant and seed conservation, genetic resource diversity and biotechnology, and utilisation and access benefit sharing. Held at Kew and in Jordan, these workshops involved over 150 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
iii. Bham conducted five training workshops on plant and seed conservation. Principally held in Jordan, these workshops involved over 100 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
iv. Innoveo held four training workshops about FP7/Horizon 2020 programmes - relevant to botanical research – involving over 80 people from RBG and other Jordanian organisations.
v. Dr. Florent Engelmann (IRD) delivered three training workshops on plant cryopreservation techniques in Jordan. About 40 Jordanians participated in the training.
List of Websites:
Project website: http://boterajordan.org
Contact: Dr. Sabah Saifan, Email: saifan.sabah@gmail.com