Environmental Conservation

Protecting Endemic Plants

These plants are considered to be endemic to Lebanon.

Lebanon has a very rich flora. It includes a large number of plants found nowhere else on our planet. These plants are considered to be endemic to Lebanon. They often bear names relating to Lebanese places or personalities.

The country also counts species of wild plants that happen to be relatives of widely cultivated plants – these are called Wild Crop Relatives. You could say they are the wild "cousins" to our cultivated crops. Today, this makes them tremendously important as they contain genetic traits that we may need in the future not only to increase yields but to improve tolerance to different climatic conditions, diseases and pests.

Agriculture was born 12,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of which Lebanon is a part of before spreading across the continents. This places us at the centre of domestication of mainstay crops such as wheat, barley, oats, chickpeas, lentils and peas. The general public is not always aware that the food we enjoy today is the result of a very long process of domestication by selection that spanned thousands of years. Men and women have selected from the wild species, the traits that meet their direct needs.

The Charles Corm Foundation, hand in hand with the Faculty of Sciences at Beirut's Saint-Joseph University and the NGO Jouzour Loubnan has pioneered a project with the Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) to plant wild and cultivated species around archaeological sites. The first site for this experiment is the castle of Msseylha where an old mill is being restored to irrigate nearby land. Archaeological sites are great places for these projects as they are protected areas. By planting wild and cultivated species side by side, the visitor will be able to compare species and admire the prodigious phenomenon of plant domestication.

We hope this project will show visitors how plants are crucial to our lives and how, in the same way as archaeological treasures, they represent our heritage – one well worth protecting!

Photo: The Sofar Iris