Protecting an endangered species in Armenia

A critically endangered plant, threatened by a planned gold mining operation in Armenia, is being preserved with the aid of University of Cambridge academics.

Potentilla porphyrantha, a plant with pink flowers that grows on rocks at more than 2540 metres above sea level, has been found at five sites globally. It is estimated that the habitat of 21% of one population in Armenia, will be destroyed as a result of a mining project by Lydian International, an emerging gold developer. Lydian follows a “no net loss” biodiversity policy and therefore will restore the plant population after the mine has closed.

To that end, Lydian is funding a partnership between botanists, including two Armenian PhD students, Dr Peter Carey, an affiliated lecturer in Plant Sciences at the University, and Prof. Beverley Glover, Director of the Cambridge University Botanic Garden. Glover provides her knowledge and expertise to external organisations with the help of Cambridge Enterprise.

During the project, specimens of the plant will be relocated to the Yerevan Botanic Garden and a new garden in the mountain city of Jermuk. Both gardens have suffered from neglect following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The gardens will now receive funding from Lydian for research into the growth and preservation of the plant, structural restoration of greenhouses and the building of new rock gardens in order to provide both a home for the plants during the lifetime of the mine, and a legacy for Armenia.

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