*The garden has a vital role in preserving the country's plant resources
Qur'anic Botanic Garden (QBG) director Fatima bint Saleh al-Khulaifi has emphasised on the vital role of the garden in preserving the country's plant resources for future generations.
She explained that nearly 3mn seeds of rare plants, Qatari mainland plants and plants mentioned in the Qur'an and the hadiths have been collected and preserved in highly efficient facilities.
Al-Khulaifi said in an interview with the Qatar News Agency (QNA) that the garden has 2,500 herbal plant samples, with identification cards bearing the botanical indications of the plant type, enabling botanists to conduct research reviews on the classification of plants and their scientific re-gradation.
Regarding the plant conservation centre and seed bank affiliated with the QBG, she said that the centre seeks to preserve plant resources inside and outside their natural habitats, while the seed bank collects the seeds of plant species mentioned in the Qur'an and the hadith, both from inside or outside Qatar.
Al-Khulaifi noted that the collection efforts are not limited to the plants of the garden, but include co-operation with the concerned authorities in Qatar to collect seeds of threatened wild plants, preparing databases for seed characterisation of the QBG, as well as plants that grow in different parts of Qatar and conducting studies of seed patterns.
She added that the seed bank includes about 3mn seeds belonging to about 200 plant species.
Al-Khulaifi stated that since the beginning of this year, nearly 35,000 wild seedlings have been produced within the garden's programme to grow wild seedlings to rehabilitate ecosystems, and within the framework of the garden's commitment, which it announced as part of its partnership with Qatar Red Crescent, to donate 2.5mn trees to be planted by volunteers in all areas across the country over the next decade.
She noted the monitoring of 70 species of plants mentioned in the Qur'an and the hadiths, 90% of which were collected and cultivated in the garden or preserved in the plant conservation facilities of the Qatar Foundation nursery.
Al-Khulaifi indicated that there are live assemblies of the garden estimated at 18,500 plants, including trees, shrubs and perennial plants, rare agarwood trees, eucalyptus trees, Indian premium and bananas, which are grown in thermal environments prepared parallel to their original growth environments.
She indicated that the garden has so far produced 55,000 plants as part of efforts to produce 100,000 plants this year, which will be replanted in the original habitats on the Qatari mainland and used for campaigns for reforestation and greening in the community.
Al-Khulaifi said that the garden launched "Gharss" campaign for planting trees and re-greening following Qatar's bid to organise the FIFA World Cup, to share Qatar’s green environmental message to the world.
Since then, 250 trees have been planted, with nearly 4,000 plants distributed every year to community members to emphasise the importance of the environment and its connection to football.
Al-Khulaifi said that the QBG has five main roles, "environmental, community, scientific, recreational, and educational", stemming from a strong vision to support sustainable development bonds and enhance environmental awareness in the community.
She said that the garden has launched a number of campaigns and initiatives related to the rehabilitation of the land in Qatar.
The official explained that such initiatives are based on the principle of internal conservation, rehabilitating some wild plants in their wild habitats, especially in winter camping areas, and are aimed at educating citizens about the need to preserve the environment and participate in its maintenance, rehabilitation and protection from deterioration.
Al-Khulaifi added that by involving the local community, the QBG seeks to educate citizens about the need to preserve the environment and participate in its maintenance, rehabilitation and protection from deterioration, as well as educating new generations and introducing them to the types and names of Qatari wild plants.
She said that QBG has also spread basic and applied information about plants and environmental awareness through educational programmes directed at students of different age groups, through three educational programmes:
* "Food Security", which aims to improve food security in Qatar and achieve self-sufficiency, which has seen more than 200 high school students participating over two years.
* "Young Plant Researcher", which aims to qualify students to solve environmental problems, with more than 600 students taking part in two years.
* "Fun and Learn", which aims to raise awareness of children on the importance of agriculture and environmental conservation, with 250 primary school students having taken part.
On the role of the QBG in achieving food security for Qatar, al-Khulaifi said that the garden is working to train secondary school students on traditional and modern methods of vegetable cultivation.
The QBG is also working with the Qatar Development Bank to train the banks clients wishing to obtain agricultural loans.
Al-Khulaifi added that the garden is working to rehabilitate families to produce vegetables in their homes, which reduces pressure on the demand for perishable agricultural products in the markets.
The garden also provides all members of the community with a telephone line on Mondays and Wednesdays to inquire about home farming, with specialists available to answer inquiries and provide agricultural advice.