The Zelkova abelicea project is part of an interdisciplinary project to undertake the scientific review and coordinated conservation actions on the relict, rare and threatened woody species of the genus Zelkova all over the world. Z. abelicea is the unique endemic tree species on the island of Crete (Greece) and is considered as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The project will implement actions for the ex situ and in situ conservation of Zelkova abelicea, and inform local people and public authorities about the importance of its conservation.
Among the main actions of the project is the in situ protection of selected stands of Z. abelicea from grazing and pruning in mountain massifs of Crete by fencing, as well as monitoring the effect of the protective measures on plant growth and regeneration of the different selected stands. Ex situ collections of Z. abelicea will be created using plant material (seeds and root suckers) collected from all the mountain regions where Z. abelicea occurs in order to preserve as much of the genetic diversity of the species as possible in the Seed Bank of IAMC and in ex situ plantations. Special actions of awareness for the wide public and local authorities in Crete will be organized to promote the unique value of this plant as natural heritage of Crete and the Mediterranean.
The Zelkova abelicea project is implemented under the supervision of an international scientific committee with delegates from the Mediterranean Plant Conservation Unit of CIHEAM - IAMC, Forest Directorates of Crete, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens-Dept. of Biology (Greece), University of Fribourg (Switzerland), Botanic Garden Conservation International and Italian National Council of Research-Institute of Biosciences and BioResources-Division of Palermo.
CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Mediterranean Plant Conservation Unit - Greece