Can we save critically endangered relict endemic plant species? A case study of endemics in Egypt

Karim Omar
Publié: 09 août 2021
Dernière modification: 09 août 2021
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Rosa arabica and Primula boveana is a perennial endemic to the high mountain area of St. Catherine Protected Area (SCPA) in Egypt and listed as one of the most 100 threatened plants in the world. Recently, they listed as Critically Endangered due to their small Extent of Occurrence and tiny population size (less than 90). The continuous decline in habitat quality for this species and the urgent need to carry out on-ground conservation actions were reported. Many attempts were made in the past to cultivate them in the wild, but they did not succeed. So, this solution aims to conserve them through in situ practices by implementing the following steps, respectively: a) IUCN Red List, b) Ecological Niche Modeling, and c) based on the previous two steps, translocation process for R. arabica in the suitable habitat will be done after carrying out simple layering process (local community traditional method) as one of the most effective traditional vegetative methods for wild cultivation for this species.


Afrique du Nord
Échelle de la mise en œuvre
Désert chaud
Écosystèmes de désert
Acteurs locaux
Atténuation du changement climatique
Connaissances traditionnelles
Gestion des espèces
Gestion des terres
Gestion et Planification des Aires protégées et conservées
Moyens d'existence durables
Planification spatiale terrestre
Science et recherche
Sensibilisation et communications
World Heritage
Non classé
Chaleurs extrêmes
Hausse des températures
Perte de biodiversité
Récolte non durable, y compris la surpêche
Changements dans le contexte socio-culturel
Mauvaise surveillance et application de la loi
Manque d'infrastructures
Conflit social et troubles civils
Chômage / pauvreté
Objectifs de Développement Durable
ODD 1 - Pas de pauvreté
ODD 15 - Vie terrestre
ODD 17 - Partenariats pour la réalisation des objectifs
Obectifs d'Aichi
Objectif 1: Sensibilisation accrue de la biodiversité
Objectif 10: Ecosystèmes vulnérables au changement climatique
Objectif 11: Aires protégées et conservées
Objectif 12: Réduction du risque d'extinction
Objectif 14: Services des écosystèmes
Objectif 15: Restauration et la résilience des écosystèmes
Objectif 17: Stratégies de la biodiversité et des plans d'action
Objectif 18: Connaissances traditionnelles
Objectif 19: Partage de l'information et de la connaissance
Approches pour l’engagement des entreprises
Indirect à travers des gouvernements
Indirect à travers des acteurs juridiques


St. Catherine's Monastery, St. Catherine, Saint Cathrine, South Sinai 46, Egypt
Afficher sur Planète protégée


Many attempts were made previously to propagate R. arabica in the wild, but they were unsuccessful, due to the difficulty of breaking the dormancy of the seed, which, even after laboratory treatments for more than 16 months, the germination rate does not exceed 5%, and the survival rate does not exceed 0.5%. Tissue culture is expensive. The number of individuals in the wild is constantly decreasing and the seeds do not germinate in the wild. In early 2017, after discussing the problem with the local community, they explained to us an old method of vegetative propagation (layering) that they use in their gardens in the mountains. And by experimenting with it inside a garden, it proved successful in producing a new individual from the mother plant (a separated branch). After conducting field studies for the distribution of individuals, we worked together with the local community to produce new individuals similar to the mother and plant them separately from them in other places to increase the spread.


Succeed in rehabilitation for the first time ever had environmental, economic, and societal benefits



Local Community (Gabalia trib)

St. Catherine Protected Area

Nature Conservation Sector

Ministry of Environment

Desert Research Center

Comment les blocs constitutifs interagissent-ils entre eux dans la solution?

The main purpose is to preserve the natural resource and ensure its sustainability

1- Improving knowledge about the target species supports the establishment of an accurate conservation program, feeds training, awareness, and documentation programs, and creates a space for discussion with the local community about implementation steps.

2- Involving the local community in planning improves knowledge about target species, transmits traditional knowledge, reduces gaps, increases trust, ensures continuity, and nurtures awareness and documentation programs.

3- Education, awareness, and documentation programs reduce pressures on natural resources, support decision-makers in traditional ways to conserve natural resources, and protect the rights of the local community from being lost with the death of tribal leaders

Les impacts positifs

 All the mentioned steps aimed to reduce the impact of threats and the risk of extinction through increasing the population size, the Extent of Occurrence (EOO), and the Area of Occupancy (AOO) using tradichnal knowlage of local community.


Rosa arabica: After a year of traditional local method translocation in the wild, the survival rate ranged from 66 to 100% (10-40% maximum in other methods), the geographical range increased by 65%, and the population size by 6.8%.


Primula boveana: About 140 new individuals were obtained to be added to the current population as a result of this step with an increase of more than 25%. Also, the geographical range (EOO) after adding the recovery sites has increased by 230%.


These steps,  if the new individuals contained to grow and adapt it may lead to the expansion of other environmental factors such as climatic and topographical factors that probably increase the resilience of the global population of the species to adverse events.


In addition to the environmental and economic dimension of this experience, the success in restoring the two target species and their dissemination by locally-made means stemming from traditional knowledge is a great thing that reflects the importance of local communities' overlap in conservation programs to bridge gaps and reduce future conflicts and pressures and ensure sustainability.


Karim Omar

It's nice to have the opportunity to express what's inside of us through this experience. My team and I have been working hard during the past 15 years to save what can be saved from the wealth of our country. We believed that endemic plants are a national and international treasure for science, social, and economy issues. But as human activities continue to expand, ignorance of collecting and documenting information about conservation status for these species will lead to the absence of a conservation plan, which leads to extinction without prior knowledge. Our studies in this region have led us to the conclusion that the priority of conservation should go to the species that are most under pressure, few in number, and in constant decline. With less than 100 individuals remaining in the wild, it has been settled on Rosa arabica, and Primula boveana. Frankly, we tried a lot to rehabilitate them in the wild ignoring the help of the local community (we thought we knew more), but we failed completely. The processes of germination in the laboratory did not succeed, nor did the cultivation in the greenhouses succeed, and we spent years waiting for a disappointing result. By chance, in discussions with the local community, an individual spoke up and said, “I have grown them in my garden before.” Here we were dumbfounded and told him, “could you please teach us how you did that?” We tried an experiment inside his garden and it succeeded in germinating a new individual with the characteristics of the mother and with the ability to adapt. From this moment on, the local community was the main partner in the rehabilitation process, in which the survival rate has reached between 80 to 100%. We followed the traditional local method (simple layering) used by mountain Bedouins to save one of the most threatened species in the world which showed to be cost-effective in arid regions. In a tribal Bedouin society that lives inside a PA governed by the government with insufficient financial resources, the result is always conflict on ownership of resources. In addition to the environmental benefits provided by the success of the rehabilitation program, it has provided the greatest benefit to society and the government represented in the management of the PA, which is participation and a sense of the importance of its role and responsibility towards protecting its natural resources, which ensures its sustainability by protecting the community itself. This is the greatest thing we can do for our country

Contribué par

Karim Omar Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)

Soumise par

Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA)