Science & Conservation
The hunger for knowledge has always been the drive behind the discoveries that have led to more understanding of natural resources. The Arabian Peninsula first attracted explorers as early as 420 BC to explore the mystery of the deserts, the people as well as plants. Plants played a key role in the opening up of the region for explorers. The trade of frankincense (Boswellia sacra) approximately 5000 years ago from Southern Arabia to North Africa and Europe initiated the interest of botanical explorers and naturalists to visit the region.
Scientific plant specimens were collected from the Arabian Peninsula for the first time in the 18th century. The first professional collection of plants took place in Oman in 1838 when the French plant collector Pierre Aucher-Eloy visited the Sultanate and collected 250 plant species, of which many were new to science. Since then, other botanists have made many collections and described the plants and the habitats of Oman very well. They all expressed how Oman is a land of contrasts with diverse landscapes and vegetation units.
A period of intensified botanical research in Oman has taken place over the last two decades (Miller&Cope 1996; Ghazanfar& Fisher 1998; Ghazanfar 2003 & 2007; Cope 2007; FEULNER 2011; PATZELT (2014, 2015). There has been good progress extending our knowledge of the flora of Oman, resulting in the description of 103 new range-restricted species since 1980 and the documentation of new records for the country (Patzelt, 2014).
However, detailed studies of the vegetation and plant communities are still scarce and current knowledge ranges from no documentation at all to brief descriptions of the vegetation types or to characterisation of the vegetation units by their complete floristic composition and arranged in a hierarchical system of floristic similarity. Data are also lacking regarding the population parameters and ecology of individual plant species.
The establishment of Oman Botanic Garden with its mission to conserve and cherish the botanical treasures of Oman is building on a history of science and exploration in the country, and is a wise decision made at this time when natural resources are being exploited by human activities and development.