By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – An international report has identified 12 sites in Jordan as globally Important Plant Areas (IPAs) which necessitate conservation programmes to safeguard their unique species.

The Important Plant Areas of the South and East Mediterranean Region: Priority Sites for Conservation Report, which was released on Wednesday, identified more than 200 internationally significant areas for wild plants in the region.

IPAs are internationally important sites for wild plants and fungi, identified at national level using standard criteria.

The report, released by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Plantlife and WWF, said the newly categorised IPAs in the south and east of the Mediterranean region rival those found elsewhere in Europe and Asia for species richness.

The report identified the following sites in Jordan as IPAs; Wadi Rum, Dana Nature Biosphere, Karak, Salt, Ajloun, Um Qais, Safawi, Burqu, Ajloun, Bayer, Azraq and Mujib, the lowest nature reserve on Earth.

It indicated that the IPAs support an extraordinary range of wildlife and provide vital resources for local livelihoods, urging governments to recognise IPAs as priority sites for conservation in local, national and regional environmental policies and plans.

The report recommended targeting IPAs for conservation action in the Mediterranean region, incorporating the sites into protected area networks and ensuring that environment impact assessments are undertaken on development projects that affect IPAs.

The Mediterranean basin is an undisputed global biodiversity hotspot solely because of its huge plant diversity, according to the report, which indicated that around 10 per cent of the world’s vascular plants, almost 25,000, are found in the area on less than 2 per cent of the Earth’s surface and half of these species are found nowhere else on Earth.

Besides Jordan, the report identified IPAs in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, Syria and Albania. With the newly added 207 IPAs, the region is now home to 888 sites.