Next phase of collaboration to focus on environmental research and conservation SULAIMANI (September 9, 2019) — American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) and the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation (KBF) today announced an expanded partnership between the two entities that focuses on environmental research as well as environmental conservation. AUIS and KBF have been working cooperatively since 2015. Under this expanded collaboration, AUIS will support KBF with facilities, student interns and other resources, including dedicated campus space, to help KBF fulfill its mission in botanical science and research. KBF, in turn, will help AUIS in developing and maintaining new academic and program initiatives in environmental and plant-based research, conservation, and protection. Past collaborative activities include landscaping the University’s 145-hectare campus; securing a $15,000 grant from Ford Middle East and North Africa; and publishing the “Birds of Qara Dagh” bird-watching guide by the AUIS Press. “This new phase of our collaboration underscores the University's strong interest in environmental and life sciences,” said Dr. Bruce Walker Ferguson, AUIS President. “We welcome the opportunity to expand the range of our activities with the Foundation, which is the leading exploratory plant research center in Iraq.” “We thank AUIS very much for this opportunity and for the hard work done to make this a reality,” said Dr. Saman Abdulrahman, President of KBF. “We hope our new initiatives under this partnership will lead towards significant developments in environmental studies and conservation in our region.”
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) and the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation (KBF) were awarded the 2018 Ford Motor Company Conservation & Environmental Grant on December 4, 2018. The $15,000 grant will support the Center for Environmental Conservation and Research – a joint AUIS and KBF project. Speaking on the award, AUIS President Bruce Ferguson said, “American University of Iraq, Sulaimani and its partner, the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation, thank Ford for its generous gift in support of environmental conservation and research.” “KBF's scientific expertise and field experience can now join with AUIS's academic resources to develop new courses, programs and initiatives that benefit the Kurdistan Region and rest of Iraq," Ferguson continued. President Ferguson was presented with a giant check made out to AUIS and KBF in a ceremony at Ford Iraq – Al-Kasid in Erbil on February 4, 2019.
Dr. Al-Shehbaz, a senior scientist at the Missouri Botanical Garden and one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Botanical Foundation (KBF), visited the Kurdistan region for six weeks this summer. During his time in the region, he conducted fieldwork and research, in addition to teaching in Sulaimani. After a brief introduction of various flora of the southwest Asia region, Dr. Al-Shehbaz discussed the work of KBF - its extensive field research and publications - as well as the discovery of numerous species new to science and Iraq. The second half of the talk surveyed the flora of Greater Kurdistan, historically Kurdish areas of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Special focus was given to the mustard family or Brassicaceae (on which Dr. Al-Shehbaz is considered the ranking world authority), the sunflower family (Asteraceae or Compositae), the bean family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae) focusing on its largest genus Astragalus, the pink family (Caryophyllaceae) and its largest genus in the area Silene, and finally the borage family (Boraginaceae) genus Onosma. The Kurdish region of Syria was not included in the discussion due to the lack of availability of recent discoveries of flora with cited specimens. Dr. Al-Shehbaz concluded that the Greater Kurdistan region has more species of flora than Iran, Iraq, and Turkey individually, and that a conservative estimate of those species is greater than 10,000, and likely between 12,000 and 16,000.
The Green Club will then speak about the Green Campus Project and how drop irrigation can be used in the project. Afterwards, Nature Iraq will also speak about how to protect and preserve the waterways and environment! There will be a cookout plus music and singing by AUIS students.