The national biodiversity strategy in Syria contains the following contents:
1. General Information about Syria.
2. Status of Biodiversity in Syria
3. Guiding Principles for Biodiversity Conservation in Syria.
4. National Capacities in Biodiversity Management.
5. Aims of National Biodiversity Strategy.
1- General Information about Syria:
Syria is an ancient land whose history goes back thousands of years. It has witnessed the rise and fall of countless civilizations that inhabited this rich and fertile region of the Arab world. However, all those centuries of human exploitation have severely degraded the abundant natural flora and fauna that once graced the coastal, mountain and badia regions of Syria.
The different topographical, climatic and soil conditions are home to a large number of flora and fauna. It is believed that there are over 3150 species of flowering plants of which 22 are Ptyeridophytes, 10 are Gymnosperms and the remaining are Angiosperms. There are 2500 species of animals – 62% are insects, 15% birds, 6% reptiles/amphibians, 5% mammals, the rest are primarily invertebrates and micro-organisms.
2- Status of Biodiversity in Syria:
The different topographical, climatic and soil conditions are home to a large number of flora and fauna. It is believed that there are over 3150 species of flowering plants of which 22 are Ptyeridophytes, 10 are Gymnosperms and the remaining are Angiosperms. There are 2500 species of animals of which 62% are insects, 15% birds, 6% reptiles and amphibians, 5% mammals, and the remaining are primarily invertebrates and micro-organisms.
About 354 bird species have been recorded in Syria, of which between 161 – 194 species breed in the country and 156 are migratory, either passing through or wintering. At least 21 bird species are considered threatened (11 globally and 10 regionally according to the IUCN Red List). This number may prove to be much higher once ornithological studies are initiated in Syria to survey this major flyway of the Western Palearctic and critical resting stop for migrating birds particularly the birds of prey.
The large mammals of Syria suffered more than any other group of animals through loss of habitat, competition from grazing sheep and goats, and uncontrolled hunting. Early Arab and western travelers in Syria, during the 18th and 19th centuries, were still reporting on extensive herds of Reem gazelle, Syrian onager and Arabian ostrich.
3- Guiding Principles for Biodiversity Conservation in Syria:
Each of these living entities has a role and a function in the cycle of life on earth, and that cycle would not be complete without them.
Each living entity is of potential benefit even though we may not be aware of that exact benefit. Conservation of biodiversity should therefore proceed using the best knowledge available and using approaches that can be refined as new knowledge is gained.
An ecological approach to resource management is central to achieving biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of biological resources. Development must be ecologically and economically sustainable.
Biodiversity is best conserved in the wild (in-situ) both inside and outside the boundaries of a comprehensive system of protected areas. In-situ conservation has been proven to be the most cost effective method for conservation of biodiversity.
4- National Capacities in Biodiversity Management:
1- Supreme Council for Environmental Safety
2- General Commission for Environmental Affairs
3- Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs
4- Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform
5- Higher Council for Afforestation
6- Ministry of Irrigation
7- Ministry of Higher Education
8- Ministry of Information
9- Ministry of Tourism
10- Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Local Administration
11- Ministry of Planning
12- Ministry of Trade.
B/- Community Based Organizations:
1- General Union of Farmers
2- General Union of Women
3- National Union of Students
4- National Youth Union
C/- Non-Governmental Organizations:
1- Friends of Damascus
2- Syrian Biological Society
D/- Regional Research Institutions :
1. 1- ICARDA – Int’l Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas
2. 2- IPGRI – International Plant Genetic Resources Institute
3. 3-ACSAD – Arab Center for the Studies of Arid Zones & Dry Lands
4. 4-AOAD – Arab Organization for Agricultural Development
5- Aims of National Biodiversity Strategy:
1- Conserve Valuable Plant Genetic Resources
2-Conserve Valuable Animal Genetic Resources
3-Develop Biodiversity Education and Public Awareness
4-Upgrading Biodiversity Education/ Public Awareness
5-Cooperate with Arab, Regional and International Organizations for Biodiversity.
6-Strengthening Cooperation for Biodiversity