Identification of Important Plant Areas in the Azov Sea Region
Vitaly P. Kolomiichuk (Institute of Botany, Kiev), Nikita N. Peregrim (Botanical Garden of Kiev National University, Kiev)
The identification of Important Plant Areas in Ukraine as a part of establishing the European network of Important Plant Areas (IPAs) began in 2006. As of early-2009, a total of 12 IPAs were identified in Ukraine, including five located on the coast of the Azov Sea. The importance attached to the Azov Sea region is explained by the fact that both the flora and vegetation of the region are unusual and diverse, not only within Ukraine, but also in the European context. Specific features of the area include the high proportion of natural ecosystems existing along continuous stretches of the coast, the presence of a high number of endemic taxonomic categories and the particularly active evolution of new species. At the same time, during the second half of the 20th Century, the coastal ecosystems of the Azov Sea were heavily affected by infrastructural development. The most significant factors causing the degradation of their biota are eutrophication, a rapid destruction of shores and an increasing human population density in the coastal area.
The Establishment of an Important Plant Area Network in the Azov Sea Region project, initiated by the Ukrainian Botanical Society in collaboration with several botanical research institutes, was launched in 2011. The project’s activities include field surveys, compiling data of herbarium materials and publications, workshops to share experience and knowledge and raising public awareness in order to develop integrated approaches to the conservation of plant diversity in the Azov Sea region. The expected outcomes of the project include the establishment of IPAs in the Ukrainian part of the Azov Sea region, the formulation of scientific justifications for creating new protected areas and the production of two publications, namely, the Ukrainian-Russian Red Data Book for Vascular Plants in the Azov Sea Region and Important Plant Areas in the Azov Sea Region. The article also contains the resolutions taken at an international workshop on plant diversity conservation in the Azov Sea region held in Melitopol in October 2011.
The authors are hoping the project will have a follow-up in Russia that will increase the effectiveness of the created IPA network in the Azov Sea region.
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