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Royal Geographical Society

Kensington Gore

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SW7 2AR

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A lecture by Oman Botanic Garden scientists about the Flora of the Sultanate of Oman organised by the Oman Natural Heritage UK group.

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The Flora of the Sultanate of Oman - the 4th annual Oman Natural Heritage Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) on Wednesday 23rd October 2019 7.00 - 8.30 pm (Doors open 6.00 pm). An evening lecture by Dr Annette Patzelt, Dr Laila Al Harthi, Dr Faisal Al Farsi and Nigel Winser about the Flora of the Sultanate of Oman and the setting up of the new Oman Botanic Garden in the Sultanate of Oman. Organised by the Oman Natural Heritage Lecture UK Group with support form the Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal Court, Oman, the Anglo-Omani Society (London), the UK Geographical Magazine and the London Speaker Bureau.

The beautiful and very rare endemic Trichodesma laccophilum from Southern Oman. Found in dry gravelly wadi beds and open semi-desert slopes with Boswellia sacra and Acacia elbaica 600-1,000 metres. Photograph by Dr Annette Patzelt from the Oman Botanic Garden, Sultanate of Oman.

Dr Annette Patzelt, Science Director of the Oman Botanic Garden who will be introducing Dr Laila Al Harthy and Dr Khalid Al Farsi

Dr Laila Al Harthy from the Oman Botanic Garden will give her keynote address at the lecture on the Flora of the Sultanate of Oman,

Dr Khalid Al Farsi with give the second keynote lecture about the Flora of the Sultanate of Oman

The Oman Botanic Garden has been designed to celebrate the country’s botanic diversity. The design, led by Arup alongside Grimshaw and Haley Sharpe Design, collaboratively worked to deliver the engineering, landscape design, architectural and interpretive design (image courtesy Arup & Grimshaw).

Royal Guest of Honour His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent

Guests of Honour HE Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Hinai, Ambassador, Sultanate of OmanMr Stuart Laing - Chairman of the Anglo Omani SocietyMr Robert Alston CMG - Vice-President of the Anglo Omani SocietyProfessor Joe Smith - Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)Dr Paul Wilken - Royal Botanic Gardens, KewDr John Jackson, Natural History MuseumPaul Presley, Editor of the Geographical Magazine Tom Kenyon Slaney, London Speaker BureauDr Roderic Dutton, Founder of the Oman Natural Heritage Lecture

Principal Partners The Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal CourtThe Anglo-Omani Society, LondonThe Embassy of the Sultanate of Oman, LondonRoyal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Friends of KewThe UK Geographical MagazineThe London Speaker BureauThe Open University and the Westminster University

The speakers are - Dr Annette Patzelt, Dr Laila Al Harthy and Dr Khalid Al Farsi from the Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman.

The First Lecture

Fieldwork and research at the Oman Botanic Garden By Mrs Laila Al Harthy. Oman is a centre of plant diversity in the Arabian Peninsula, with 15.8% of the flora being range restricted (Patzelt, 2008). With this vast diversity of the country’s flora and the idea of the people-plants heritage celebration, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos instructed the construction of the Oman Botanic Garden (OBG). OBG is currently under development in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. The vision of OBG is that “the Oman Botanic Garden as a new world-class botanic garden conserves the unique botanical and ethnobotanical heritage of Oman and to ensure that the flora, heritage and ecosystems of Oman are valued by all”. The garden is the first of its kind in representing the entire native flora of the country, and it will be the largest in the Arabian Peninsula and among the largest in the world.

The garden will be the first in the whole world to grow only native plants of the country. Very few of the Omani native plants have been in propagation before the OBG project. Therefore, development of such a garden, from scratch, gave the OBG staff the chance to explore the entire country habitats in order to collect plant materials and document data about the diverse native flora. Hundreds of field trips have been organised to collect seeds, cutting and even whole plants when required. The overall plant collection in the garden includes the living collection in the nursery, seeds in the seed bank and voucher’s collection to be preserved in the OBG herbarium.

The garden will act as a significant plant research centre in Oman and the middle east. It is currently conducting researches in botanical and horticultural fields. The current research areas include the flora and vegetation data collection, seed propagation, plants cultivation, pests and diseases, ethnobotany and in the future the garden will expand its research field to include areas such as plant genetics researches. The plant data collection and documentation throughout the whole stages of the garden work is significant in filling the gap of botanical knowledge of the country. The work of the Oman Botanic Garden will form a principal role in the global strategy for biodiversity conservation like the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The Second Lecture

Oman Botanic Garden Living Collection - Bringing Habitat to life By Dr Khalid Al Farsi. The flora of the Arabian Peninsula is poorly represented in botanical gardens around the world. The ambitious Oman Botanic Garden aspires to significantly change that representation by cultivating and showcasing the native plants of Oman. Currently the living collections at OBG has two main functions – 1) propagate and cultivate plants for planting in the garden’s habitat and amenity spaces and 2) to develop a comprehensive ex-situ collection of Oman’s native plants for the purpose of conservation, research and education. Currently, all the plants are located in the nursery where they are being grown until the garden is prepared for final planting. Growing such a diverse range of plants, most of which are new to cultivation is an enormous challenge. Over the last 10 years, the OBG team has developed new protocols and systems for plant propagation, potting, plant handling, irrigation, pruning and pest and disease management. For example. OBG’s intention is to implement a pesticide free management strategy to control pests and diseases within the collection. This involves the use of natural predators or parasites to mitigate the effect of pests and diseases.

Conservation at OBG is not only focused on ex-situ strategies, in-situ conservation also plays a key role. As part of OBG’s in-situ initiatives the team established ‘a plant rescue project’ whereby mature trees and large shrubs were translocated from sites being destroyed for road construction. Hundreds of mature plants were rescued and brought to the garden were they currently thrive, awaiting planting in the core garden. In-situ conservation is further utilized through the germination of seed and establishment of native trees in their natural habitats. This is exemplified in the study of regeneration and establishment of Juniper trees in the high-altitude mountains of northern Oman – the project started in 2013 and continues to this day. This presentation will take you through this and many other examples of OBG’s novel and exciting horticultural research and practices.

The 4th Oman Natural Heritage Lecture 2019

Organised in the UK by Dr Roderic Dutton, Sean Nelson, Rob Baldwin and Nigel Winser by kind permission of the Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman.

Photography acknowledgements For the Oman photographs: The Oman Botanic Garden, Diwan of Royal Court, Sultanate of Oman.

Chairs for the evening The evening will be chaired by Dr Annette Patzelt and Mr Nigel Winser, founder of the Oman Natural Heritage Lecture Group with the vote of thanks being given by Dr Paul Wilken, Head of Natural Capital and Plant Health, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The Speakers of the 4th Oman Natural Heritage Lecture 2019

Dr Laila Al Harthy, Senior Botanist at the Oman Botanic Garden

Dr Laila Al Harthy works as a botanist at the Oman Botanic Garden in Diwan of Royal Court, for the last 13 years. She used to manage the seed bank in the garden, and she is a lead coordinator for the native plant collecting trips within Oman. She is also a key member of the OBG management team and involved in a variety of plant conservation projects in the garden. Laila is very interested in developing researches around the theme of using vegetation mapping to target plant conservation initiatives in Oman, and she is hoping that her work will go a long way to improving Oman’s commitment to nature conservation.

Laila obtained her BSc in biology and MSc in Environmental Sciences from Sultan Qaboos University. Currently, Laila is completing here DPhil degree program in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford, UK. Her research is about the conservation of the Hajar Mountains that was carried out through several steps started with vegetation classification, predicting the current distribution of the mountain’s species and evaluation the status of vegetation in the mountains using the IPA criteria and conservation prioritisation analysis.

Due to the hard terrain and the harsh environment of the Eastern Hajar Mountains, data collection for the DPhil project required carrying out field works using all possible access ways that ranged from hiking trips to using donkeys and helicopters to reach the remote study locations.

Dr Khalid Al Farsi, Senior Horticulturalist at the Oman Botanic Garden

Dr Khalid Al Farsi is a Senior Horticulturist at Oman Botanic Garden, at the Diwan of Royal Court. From 2005 to 2008, Khalid worked as fruit tree researcher at the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. He joined Oman Botanic Garden on 2008 - his current position the management of living collections. His main responsibility is managing plant propagation and production, plant health, staff training and development, and horticultural research. He is also a key member of the native plant rescue team; whose aim is to rescue trees and large shrubs from around the country which would otherwise be destined for destruction from road construction.

Khalid gained his BSc. and MSc. degrees in Crop Science from the College of Agriculture and Marine Science in 2003 and 2008, respectively. In 2018, he earned a PhD. in Ecology Landscape from The University of Sheffield. In his PhD. project, Khalid studied the effect of climate triggers, mainly temperature and water availability, on recruitment and regeneration of Juniper trees in Northern Mountains of Oman.

As part of the project, more than two hundred Juniper seedlings were translocated at different altitudes in their natural habitat to study the influence of climate on growth and establishment. The areas of interest are horticulture, fruit and vegetable production, nature conservation, ecology and plant physiology.

Dr Annette Patzelt, Science Director of the Oman Botanic Garden.Dr Annette Patzelt is a field botanist and plant ecologist with expertise on the flora and vegetation of Oman. With a career in botany and conservation spanning 35 years, she has lived and worked in Oman for 21 years. She taught biology for eight years at Sultan Qaboos University prior to starting her current role as Director of Science at Oman Botanic Garden.

The Oman Botanic Garden is an iconic new garden that is currently under construction in Muscat, Oman. The garden will showcase all of Oman’s native plant species in a series of carefully created, naturalistic habitats from arid deserts to monsoon cloud forests. Annette’s role in the senior management of the Garden is to build up a unique native plant collection while also training a cadre of highly professional Omani staff and providing strategic guidance during the design and construction process.

On many occasions, Annette’s work responsibilities have taken her on research expeditions to all areas and habitats of Oman and have given her the opportunity to explore and document the country’s plant diversity. Her research focuses on the flora and vegetation of Oman, endemic species and plant conservation.

Annette is the author of the first Red Data Book in the region providing IUCN assessments of all range-restricted and threatened plant species of Oman. She also authored two field guides on the flora of Oman, has written 18 book chapters and flora accounts, and numerous papers on the flora and vegetation of Oman, botanic gardens, and plant conservation, including the description of a number of species, new to science.

During her 14 years at Oman Botanic Garden, Annette has led the development of the world’s largest documented collection of Arabian plants, comprised primarily of species which have never been cultivated before. The garden has the unique aim of propagating and displaying the complete indigenous flora of the Sultanate of Oman and aims to address the urgent need for conservation solutions. The Oman Botanic Garden represents a new model for botanic gardens in the 21st century and is a ground-breaking model for ex-situ conservation in Arabia. Annette has a keen interest in promoting this botanic garden as a custodian of plant diversity through engaging interpretation and unique visitor experiences.

Previous Oman Natural Heritage Annual Lectures organised by the UK Oman Group

2016 Oman’s Natural Heritage - Arabian Leopards and Aflaj Hydroponic by Hadi Al Hikmani and Abdul Aziz Al Huseini chaired by Nigel Winser and guest appearance by Mr and Mrs Robert Alston and Mr Jamie Bowden with support from Dr Saif Al Shaqsi, the Director of the Oman National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation.

2017Oman’s Marine Heritage - Oman’s Whales, Dolphins and Turtles by Aida Al Jabri, Suaad Al Harthi and Robert Baldwin chaired by Kamela Al Barami and guest appearance by Dr Saif Al Shaqsi. Guests of honour His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent GCVO, His Excellency Sayyid Bader bin Hamad Al Busaidi and Minister Plenipotentiary Mr Taeeb Salim Al Alawi.

2018Oman’s Hidden Conservation Heritage - Arabian tahr and Nubian ibex in Oman’s Mountains by Haitham Al Rawahi and Al Sayyid Taimur Al Said chaired by Hadi Al Hikmani and guest appearance by Mr Yasser Al Salami and Dr Mansoor Al Jahdhami. Guests of honour His Excellency Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Mr Issa Al Shibani, Dr Saif Al Shaqsi, Mr Stuart Laing, Mr Robert Alston and Professor Robert Allison.

Future proposed annual lectures planned at the Royal Geographical Society, London SW7 2AR are:

2020 - Oman’s Geological Heritage, Wednesday 21st October 20202021 - Oman’s Ornithological Heritage, Wednesday 27th October 20212020 - Oman’s Geographical Heritage, Wednesday 26th October 2022

Acknowledgements in the UK – our thanks go to:The Oman Embassy in London for their continued support for the Annual Oman Heritage Lecture, with special thanks to the Ambassador, His Excellency Abdulaziz Abdullah Al Hinai and Venise and Rashid in the Ambassadors Office and Phil El-Raheb.

The Anglo-Oman Society, London for supporting the travel and accommodation costs of the speakers.

The Geographical Magazine for promoting the Lecture each year and their offer to readers of the Magazine.

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and their staff for their help and support in arranging the lecture evening.

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew for their specialist tours for the Oman Delegation in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019

The Natural History Museum for their specialist tours for the Oman Delegation in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Four Communications (UK) for their help in promoting and supporting the 4th Oman Lecture evening.

London Speaker Bureau for their financial support towards the 4th Oman Lecture evening.

The University of Westminster and Open University for their help in promoting the lecture to their students.

Photographers in Residence for the evening Martin Hartley and Nico Wills

Oman Music before the lecture Emma Shenkman.

The Oman Volunteer Group in the UKRob Baldwin, Lawrence Ball, Hokey Bennett-Jones, Holly Blacksell, James Borrell, Roderic Dutton, Peter and Bridget Gladwin, Martin Hartley, Hadi Al Hikmani, Justin Marozzi, Sue Morris, Sean Nelson, Beth Richards, Emma Shenkman, Thomas Starnes, Eleanor Thomas, Nico Wills, Shane Winser, Nigel Winser.

The Oman Natural Heritage Lecture Group (UK)Mr Nigel Winser, Dr Roderic Dutton, Mr Sean Nelson and Mr Rob BaldwinThe Old Forge, Brook End, Chadlington, Oxfordshire, OX7 3NF+ 44 1608 676 042 nigel@winserdialogue.com

Please email Nigel Winser if you have any queries or wish to be added to the Oman Natural Heritage Annual Lectures list.nigel@winserdialogue.comDraft 16th July 2019

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Kensington Gore

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SW7 2AR

United Kingdom

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