University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars > Is achieving no net loss of a globally rare species achievable for a mining project in the Caucasus global biodiversity hotspot possible?

Is achieving no net loss of a globally rare species achievable for a mining project in the Caucasus global biodiversity hotspot possible?

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In 2012 as part of an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA), the baseline biodiversity survey for a new mine in the Vyots Dzor region of Armenia turned up a population of a plant that was only known from 5 locations globally, Potentilla porphyrantha. The mining company have a ‘no net loss of biodiversity’ policy. The Armenian have strong protection laws for the Red List species, so finding a way through the fine details and ambiguities of the wording of the Armenian environmental legislation to come up with a way that the mine could go ahead so that there is no net loss and hopefully a net gain in biodiversity has proved very challenging, but hopefully successful. A $600,000 project including two PhD studentships and the rejuvenation of one of the botanic gardens of Armenia is underway in a collaborative project between the mining company, The Institute of Botany in Armenia, The University of Cambridge Botanic Garden and Treweek Environmental Consultants.

There are other biodiversity issues as there are many other species of interest, including bears, wolves, lynx and bezoar goats in the area. To counter the loss of valuable habitat on the mountain a new national park is going to be funded in part by the mining company.

So far things look promising on the ecological front as plants are surviving well in the glasshouse and on artificial rockeries and our understanding of the genetics of this species and some possible synonymous relatives is progressing. However, being the go-between for the mining company and the Armenian government remains tricky.

This talk is part of the Plant Sciences Departmental Seminars series.

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