Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania
Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Crete
The Mediterranean Plant Conservation Unit (MPCU) of CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) is the Lead Partner and is responsible for the technical management and the communication actions of the project and for all actions in Crete.
The CIHEAM-Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) is the most recently established (1985) of the four Mediterranean Agronomic Institutes administered by the International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM, http://www.ciheam.org) whose General Secretariat resides in Paris-France. The Mediterranean Agronomic Institutes of Bari (IAMB, Italy), Montpellier (IAMM, France) and Zaragoza (IAMZ, Spain) are constituent Institutes of the same organisation.
MAICh provides postgraduate education leading to the degree of Master of Science (M.Sc.) and undertakes basic and applied research related to the sectors of economics, rural development, management, and applied biological, technological and environmental sciences, addressing to problems in the Mediterranean area.
The Mediterranean Plant Conservation Unit (MPCU) of MAICh aims at the study and conservation of wild native plants of the Mediterranean. It is a member of the Mediterranean network of seed banks named “GENMEDA” (in total, 13 members from North and South Mediterranean) and of the European Native Seed Conservation Network “ENSCONET” (in total, 24 European members); in the framework of “ENSCONET”, the MPCU is the local coordinator for the SE Mediterranean region. The MPCU is also a member of the Greek National Network of Botanical Gardens that is represented in the BGCI. It comprises a Seed Bank established since 2000 that preserves accessions of wild, endemic and threatened plants of Crete and the Mediterranean. The infrastructure of the seed bank provides all the essential steps for the preservation of seed germplasm, such as collection (well experienced personnel on collection of Cretan flora and on plant identification), seed drying (drying room with relative humidity 15-20% at 15oC), and storage (cold room at -18oC). In addition, there is a fully equipped laboratory for germination experiments (six germination chambers with controlled temperature and light conditions, dark room with safety light for studies on seed dormancy, etc). The Seed Bank works in a close association with the Botanical Garden where endemic and threatened plants are cultivated for demonstration and education purposes. The Herbarium of the Unit hosts specimens from the most important plant species of Crete and disposes all the required facilities for taxonomic plant identification in the area. The staff of MPCU has more than 15 years of experience in the identification, taxonomy of the Mediterranean flora, study, management and protection of native plants (in situ and ex situ conservation) including endemic and threatened plants, medicinal and aromatic plants, wild relatives of food and agricultural plants.
In the last 10 years MAICh has been involved in four international conservation-focused projects: GENMEDOC (Interreg IIIB Medocc; 2004-2006), SEMCLIMED (Interreg IIIB Medocc; 2006-2013), “Ensuring the survival of endangered plants in the Mediterranean” (funded by MAVA Foundation pour la nature; 2011-2014) and ‘ECOPLANTMED’ (ENPI CBC MED Programme; 2014-2015), and in several national conservation-focused projects (e.g. LIFE+ JUNICOAST (LIFE+; 2009-2013)).