The Kurdistan Botanical Foundation (hereafter KBF) is a non-profit organization that was established by a group of botanists and environmentalists in 2013 committed to serving diverse aspects of various botanical fields in Kurdistan Iraq and to bringing botany to the international standards. Among the KBF approved, on–going, or planned projects are: a botanical garden in Sulaimani, Kurdistan National Herbarium ,Flora of Kurdistan; as a part of it we are now working on Azmer-Goizha mountain, and seed bank of Kurdistan. These vast goals of the organization are very much needed. So far, the first two have been approved for funding from different governmental agencies of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Purpose and Goals: KBF strives to protect and preserve the natural habitats of Kurdistan through multidisciplinary studies and actions. The goal is to educate, promote, preserve, support, conserve, sustain, and serve any activity or measure related to the botanical heritage of Kurdistan. In principle, KBF would act as an umbrella to look over and promote many important but challenging projects relating to the national heritage.
Why is it important what we do?
Botanical studies have been neglected in Iraq, in particular in Kurdistan. A series of conflicts over the past 30 years obstructed scientific surveys and studies of biodiversity. Despite the decline of conflict in the region and the economic boom since 2003, no credible scientific studies have been undertaken to record and preserve native plant species. Expatriate scientists from around the world working in this field established our foundation to fill this gap in Kurdistan.
Botanical wealth is arguably a country’s most important natural resource. It can last for thousands of years and is the basis of the world’s life support system. This wealth is difficult to recover when destroyed. We believe, we must preserve our plants for future generations. - There are some species that are endemic to our region, these in particular must be protected and preserved because many studies shows that these species can be used as medicinal plants or genetic resource.
There are some species that are very important as a key species for protecting the ecosystem such as 0ak and maple trees. -Climate change and drought get worse year after year. Some plant species in Kurdistan are at risk of disappearing within years. Studies show that almost a quarter of known species will be extinct within 50 years.
One of the most important activities of the foundation is capacity building. We conduct and run courses and workshops for young scientists who study botany, offering up-to-date advanced plant systematic classes. In the past two years, our foundation has conducted two workshops each for a month long, run by a leading taxonomist, Dr. Ihsan Al-Shehbaz. Dr. Al-Shehbaz a senior scientist at the Missouri Botanical Garden in the U.S., is also one of the founder and foundation’s board members. More than twenty M.SC or PhD students attended each workshop.