Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership – Jordan
Threats to plant survival in Jordan include drought, agriculture, and the rapid increase of the population. The partnership is working hard to protect the spectacular and wide range of plant species which human populations depend on.
MSB team collecting seeds in Jordan (Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew)
By helping us produce a Collection Guide to our rare and endangered local flora, the Millennium Seed Bank partnership has enabled us to carry out targeted conservation of our priority species. It has also enabled us to involve local farmers, communities and Bedouins in conservation activities and help them use wild plant species in a sustainable way.Sabah Saifan, Head of Plant Genetic Resources Unit, National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension (NCARE)
Plant life in Jordan is under threat
In dry regions such as Jordan, the human population is directly dependent upon the plants that grow there for uses such as fuel, medicine and food.
There are 2,100 plant species including 150 endemics (plants found exclusively in Jordan). In drylands, vegetation is often threatened by human pressures and exacerbated by drought.
Many dryland plant species and the genetic diversity that they represent may only be saved by conservation measures such as seed banking.
Environment and climate
The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is by any standard a desert kingdom.
Nearly 70% of the land is stony steppe and desert (called ‘badiah’) with an average annual rainfall of less than 50 to up to 100 mm. Steppe and desert are just two of the four major physiographic regions.
There is also the Jordan Valley and the highlands, a chain of hills and mountains running from northwest to southwest of the country. As a result the altitude varies from -400 m near the Dead Sea to +1735 metres, and the maximum in annual rainfall in the north western highlands can reach over 500 mm each year.
This diversity has created four different bioclimatic zones: Mediterranean, Irano-Turanian, Saharo-Arabian and Sudanian. As a result the flora of this very dry country is still bigger than of the United Kingdom.
Saving seeds for the future in Jordan
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank has partnered with the National Centre for Agriculture Research and Extension (NCARE) in Jordan to help with conservation efforts. A Collection Guide to rare and endangered species of Jordan was produced in 2005 by Kew’s Geographical Information Systems Unit.
This has helped identify the types of plant species that need protection, including Jordanian endemics, threatened species and species that are significant for the rural economy of the country. The aim is to collect around 35 species new to Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank each year.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership is providing expert advice and training in Jordan to strengthen their seed collection and banking activities. The National Centre for Agriculture Research and Extension, Genetic Resources Unit, houses a herbarium and cold store. Collecting, administrating and maintaining seed collections are activities undertaken by NCARE staff.
Our partnership also aims to publicise the importance of seed banks to the government and to the broader community.
In Jordan there is a well-developed sense of nature conservation, which enjoys special support from the royal family. Several biosphere reserves have been created, most notably the Azraq oasis in the eastern desert and the mountains near Dana in the south west.
Discover more about our work in the Middle East...
Our team in Jordan
- Michiel van Slageren, International Project Coordinator
- Sabah Saifan, MSBP team leader
- Khaled Abulaila, taxonomist and NCARE herbarium curator
- Ziad Tehabsom, data manager
Our partners in Jordan
Plant stories from Jordan
Scientific Research and Data