The 17th edition of the OPTIMA (Organization for the Phyto-Taxonomic Investigation of the Mediterranean Area) congress was recently held in the city of Erice, in the northwest of Sicily. This event takes place every three years and focuses on different aspects of botany in the Mediterranean area. On this occasion, 160 botanists from 26 countries attended, including two technicians from the Botanical Institute of Barcelona, Dr. Jordi López-Pujol and Dr. Carlos Gómez-Bellver, to present the LIFE medCLIFFS project on the Costa Brava. The project focuses on the conservation of the HCI 1240 habitat of Mediterranean coastal cliffs with endemic Limonium spp. and the management of invasive plants that threaten them.
The main objectives of the project were explained during an oral presentation entitled: LIFE medCLIFFS: towards an integrative management of invasive plant species in the Costa Brava (North-east Iberian Peninsula). The need to improve the knowledge of the allochthonous and invasive flora in the north-eastern Mediterranean was also presented, with the title: Cataloguing the alien flora of north-western Mediterranean basin: recent efforts and future prospects.
At the same time, a poster was presented on some floristic novelties, such as two first-citations at European level, which were observed during the design of the monitoring sections of 33 invasive or potentially invasive species on the Costa Brava.
After the congress, the two technicians took the opportunity to visit habitat 1240 at Cape Zafferano, located east of Palermo, which in this case grows on a calcareous substrate. Here we noted the presence of the endemic Limonium bocconei, as well as several other native species, some of which are also present in the populations of the Costa Brava, such as samphire and Helichrysum stoechas. Unfortunately, we also observed several invasive plants, especially Opuntia ficus-indica, Acacia saligna and Austrocylindropuntia subulata.
Text: Carlos Gómez-Bellver