A virtual herbarium of Central Asian plant species of the Central Herbar of Kazakhstan (AA), established under the Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI)

The absence of a consistent digital database of plants of Central Asia is a serious shortcoming in day to day work of nature conservation organizations, protected area staff, as well as for monitoring, and scientific purposes. There are about 750 species that are adapted to extreme arid and saline environmental conditions and that have been identified to have relevant economic value for mankind.

The Central Asian Desert Initiatives commits to close this scientific gap and to elaborate a sound virtual database accessible for people around the world, be it protected area and forestry staff, people involved in ecological audit and monitoring, scientific organizations, universities, colleges, schools, environmental NGOs, UN bodies, international nature conservation organisations, development agencies, professional and amateur botanists, plant taxonomists or eco tourists.

A sound implementation of the database demands the cooperation with leading specialists in the area of geobotany, database management and IT infrastructure. Scientists of Greifswald University and Michael Succow Foundation have proven experiences in exactly these research topics when a virtual herbarium of the flora of Mongolia has been established (floragreif.uni-greifswald.de/).

95% of the global distribution of temperate deserts are located in Central Asia – hence this region carries a high responsibility for the preservation of this biome. Against this background, the Central Asian Desert Initiative (CADI) aims at preserving biological diversity and the conservation and sustainable use of cold winter deserts in Central Asia. Therefore, in close coordination with local partners, a wide package of measures is being implemented in the main target countries Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

CADI is jointly implemented by the University of Greifswald (Germany), the Michael Succow Foundation (Greifswald, Germany) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Sub-regional Office for Central Asia (Ankara, Turkey).