The Environment Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment of Cyprus, an IUCN Member, and partners, have started a project entitled “Establishment of a Plant Micro-Reserve Network in Cyprus for the Conservation of Priority Species and Habitats”. The project is based on monitoring and conservation of small land plots of great value in terms of plant richness, endemism and rarity.
The project aims to improve the protection of four priority plant species in Cyprus: *Arabis kennedyae, *Astragalus macrocarpus ssp. lefkarensis, *Centaurea akamantis and *Ophrys kotschyi (orchid), as well as two priority habitats, the Cyprus cedar forests (*9590 Cedrus brevifolia forests) and the Golden Oak forests (*9390 Scrub and low forest vegetation of Quercus alnifolia). All of these are located in areas of the Natura 2000 Network.
The main project objective will be achieved via the establishment, management and monitoring of a network of five Plant Micro-Reserves (PMRs) in the locations where the above species and habitats are found. The areas selected for the installation of the micro-reserves are the Natura 2000 Network areas of “Periochi Mitserou”, “Koilada ton Kedron-Kampos”, “Chersonisos Akama” and “Periochi Asgatas”.
Actions of the project focus on the description, monitoring and reduction of anthropogenic and natural threats on the populations of the studied species/habitats. In addition, a number of measures will contribute to the enrichment of the species’ natural populations by increasing their size, and their quality by increasing the genetic diversity of natural populations. Furthermore, in an effort to conserve the species and create opportunities for their further expansion and long-term survival, they are to be cultivated in botanical gardens and their seeds deposited in a seed bank. The project also aims, through increasing awareness and public participation, to highlight the significance of conservation of important species and habitats, and the importance of biodiversity conservation in Cyprus in general.
The project, partially financed by the European Commission, started on 1 January 2010 and will end in June 2013. The project is being implemented in cooperation with the Nature Conservation Unit of Frederick University, the Forestry Department, the Department of Botany of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Federation of Environmental and Ecological Organizations of Cyprus and the United Nations Development Programme-ACT (Action for Cooperation and Trust in Cyprus).