Abstract Detail

Floristics & Taxonomy

Barkworth, Mary [1], Gelle, Faisal Jama [2], Pickering, Helen [3], Billings, Garrett [4], Awale, Ahmed Ibrahim [5].

Documenting the biological heritage of the Laas Geel, Somaliland, Rock Art Preserve.

Laas Geel, Somaliland, is home to outstanding ancient rock art. Recognizing its significance, the Somaliland Government and the Red Sea Cultural Center, with aid from the European Union, are working on its conservation. In this connection, they fenced the area around the artwork in January 2019. In August 2019, the Somaliland Biodiversity Foundation, with approval of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism and in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, started a floristic survey of the reserve and its surrounding area. The foundation’s overall goals are to provide experience in developing documented, comprehensive checklists, increase the educational resources for teaching plant taxonomy in Somaliland; and contribute to building Somaliland’s economic development. It is working with local professionals in 1) developing checklists of plants a) inside and b) outside the fence; 2) initiating a long-term monitoring program; 3) preparing posters, in English and Somali; and 4) developing identification keys for the area. The top set of specimens collected are deposited in HARG. So far, 178 specimens have been collected. They include 87 species and 77 genera plus several unidentified specimens. The list can be viewed at OpenHerbarium.org. Conducting the survey is a significant challenge for all involved. There is no plant taxonomist in Somaliland, no history of plant taxonomy instruction in Somaliland and hence, no experience in conducting documented surveys. This makes accurate plant identification a major challenge. Staff at Kew have been enormously helpful with identifying duplicates taken there and in suggesting identification for those for which we had only images. The intention was to prepare duplicates of all the specimens collected, but many were accidentally mounted with the HARG specimen, hence the many unidentified specimens. Another problem is that, although, the site is only 62 km mi from Hargeisa, getting there takes 2 hours and requires hiring a driver with 4-wheel drive field vehicle. This makes each trip both time consuming and expensive. Despite everything, we are determined to continue this survey so that the area around the artwork can be a place for learning about Somaliland’s current biological diversity. We have already, with the help of others, extended the scope of the Foundation’s activities at Laas Geel, to include animals (see “Flora Projects” [sic] in OpenZooMuseum.org). If funds permit, a field trip to the area will be included in the plant taxonomy course to be taught at the University of Hargeisa in 2021.

Related Links:
Animals observed at Laas Geel
Plants recorded for Laas Geel
Laas Geel Complex and The Magnificent Ancient Rock Art of Somalia

1 - Utah State University, Department Of Biology, 5305 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT, 84322, United States
2 - University of Hargeisa, Biodiversity Museum, Hargeisa, Somaliland
3 - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Herbarium, Kew, Surrey, Richmond, England, TW9 3AE, UK
4 - Weber State University, Botany Department, 1415 Edvalson St., Dept. 2504, Ogden, UT, 84408, USA
5 - University of Hargeisa, Environmental Science, Hargeisa, Somaliland

Horn of Africa

Presentation Type: Poster
Session: P, Floristics & Taxonomy Posters
Location: Virtual/Virtual
Date: Wednesday, July 29th, 2020
Time: 5:00 PM Time and date to be determined
Number: PFT005
Abstract ID:508
Candidate for Awards:None

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