3 Sep 2012
The Lichen Conservation and Education Initiative in Armenia
Research and Conservation of Epiphytic Lichens in the Several Important Plant Areas of Armenia
The project aims to obtain comprehensive data on epiphytic lichens diversity, abundance and distribution in the different terrestrial-functional zones of the “Dilijan” National Park. The project will also be directed to identify threatened lichen species and they conservation needs.
One of the important biodiversity “hotspots” for Armenia is “Dilijan” National Park is situated in Tavush Marz. Various management regimes in the Park aim at the preservation of the rich biological diversity as well as its sustainable use. The National Park was established to protect the mesophyllous oak and beech forests, with relict species as Taxus baccata L. (berry yew) and Rhododendron caucasicum Pall. (Caucasian rhododendron). 902 species of vascular plants and 560 higher fungal species are known from the park. However, there are almost no data on lichens.
The main goal of the project is to prepare a checklist of its epiphytic lichen species and to collect data on their abundance and distribution. The distribution data will be used to identify the key habitats and limiting factors, and will provide baseline data for conservation actions. To ensure protection of epiphytic lichens in National Park by developing its conservation management plan and to include lichen conservation aspects in national conservation strategies, we will submit the project report to all interested parties.
The research will be accompanied by environmental education program for local people. The program will include: distribution of 1000 booklets and 500 calendars among youth and schoolchildren of local communities. The 2 seminars on lichens, their role in ecosystem and introduction to the biodiversity conservation basic aspects will be organized for locals and students. In the framework of the project, the first website on lichenology in Armenia “Online lichenology of Armenia” will be created and will raise awareness of youth and students on the importance of lichens in the ecosystem and their conservation. The young scientists and students will actively participate in this project, which will support development of a new generation of skilled lichenologists in Armenia.