Selecting native plant material for restoration projects in different ecosystems

Karma Bouazza

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Due to loss of natural ecosystems and biodiversity around the world along the past decades, international initiatives are being developed to establish a foundation for the restoration of diverse ecosystems, prioritizing ecosystem biodiversity and resilience while also recognizing impacts on rural livelihoods and carbon storage. As programs have become more refined, a shift from revegetation with available material to using native plant materials of known genetic origin has been underway, and achieving increasing priority at an international level. Through research and collaborative partnerships, on local, regional and international levels, and between public and private sectors, approaches are being developed that addresses the challenges in using native genetic plant material in ecological restoration. Four study cases from different geographic locations and climatic conditions were selected to demonstrate the successes in using native genetic plant material, developing a baseline for native genetic resource management, and meeting challenges according to every ecosystem’s limiting factors. In Jordan’s desert ecosystem a developed native seed strategy has majorly improved seedling quality and post-planting survival rate. In the tropical ecosystem of Guinea Conakry, the major challenge is to identify best seed collection times and seed handling techniques to improve seed germination and propagation of native seedlings through seeds for the restoration of the Bossou corridor. Within Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, an emphasis is being made on the development of a traceability system for native genetic plant material used in restoration projects, considering the genetic variability within native species, starting with Cedrus atlantica. In Lebanon, considering the diverse ecosystems, a scheme for the selection of native plant material is developed within every restoration project, for dryland, riparian or forest ecosystems. Speaker: Karma Bouazza received her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Engineering and her Master of Science in Plant Protection from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. She has worked since 2011 with the U.S. Forest Service International Programs in Lebanon, Jordan, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Rwanda. Through research and collaborative partnerships, she has worked on developing approaches that addresses the challenges in using native genetic plant material in ecological restoration in diverse geographic locations and climatic conditions. Currently, she is also leading the Research and Development Component at the Lebanon Reforestation Initiative NGO, aiming at first identifying research gaps throughout the different fields of ecological restoration and wildlife conservation that hinder the sustainability of landscape management.

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Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program