Conserving rangeland biodiversity

June 30, 2010 at 5:42 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Santolina rosmarinifolia in the new pastoretum. Left to right: Dr Mounir Louhaichi, Rangeland Ecologist; Dr Maarten van Ginkel, DDG-Research; Mr Amin Khatib, Research Associate

A new pastoretum – a field genebank for rangeland species – has been established at ICARDA’s Tel Hadya research station. The pastoretum will help conserve important rangeland species, provide seed to rehabilitate degraded rangeland areas, serve as a demonstration and training site, and as a testing ground to evaluate perennial fodder or multi-purpose plants suited to dry rangeland areas. Key species will be characterized for various traits: ecological habitat, season of use, nutritive value, and palatability. The emphasis is on species that are tolerant to drought, cold, salinity, and grazing; and species that can provide multiple benefits such as fodder, fuelwood, aromatic/medicinal uses , soil fertility improvement, erosion control etc.

This is part of ICARDA’s efforts to establish and maintain field genebanks and reference herbaria to assist in the protection and sustainable use of rangeland areas. Pastoretums have been established by national research centers in Libya and Morocco, with technical assistance from ICARDA; a similar effort has begun in Syria. ICARDA’s Rangeland Ecology and Management Unit, led by Dr Mounir Louhaichi, has also provided seeds to partner countries, where they will be tested for adaptability to local conditions, and potential to generate income for small-scale farmers.

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