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Medicinal Plant Conservation in Georgia

Volume 2 Number 1 - June 2003

Shalva Sikharulidze

The flora of the Republic of Georgia, one of three Caucasian countries, is extremely rich and diverse. Of 4200 known vascular plants species, 380 are endemic with restricted distribution. Most of endemic species are well-known for their medicinal properties and have been widely used in traditional medicine. Unfortunately, most of Georgian medicinal plants are on the verge of extinction due to habitat deterioration and fragmentation, soil pollution and illegal harvesting.

In 2001, the Phytera Trust Fund for Biodiversity Conservation (2001) administered by Fiona Dennis, Project Officer, BGCI supported the project "Conservation of Medicinal Plants in the Republic of Georgia" submitted by the Institute of Botany, Georgian Academy of Sciences. Project work was undertaken in 2001 and 2002. Field expeditions were organized to collect live plant material and seeds of medicinal plants for ex-situ conservation in previously prepared sites in the Alpine Botanical Garden situated in the high-mountain village of Bakuriani in south-west Georgia. Based on literature and field observations, a red list of endangered medicinal plant species was compiled. The project work was undertaken in close cooperation and participation of local community representatives and interest groups. Close links were established with the Bakuriani regional non-governmental organization "Tskratskaro" to disseminate knowledge on medicinal plants among schoolchildren and teenagers. Posters of Georgian rare medicinal plants were printed and distributed to the local population.