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Initiative

Endemic, rare, and endangered plant species of Milos – Saving the lost treasure of the island

Endemic, rare, and endangered plant species of Milos – Saving the lost treasure of the island
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IMERYS

ΙΜΕRYS is the world leader in mineral-based specialty solutions for industry, delivering functional specialty solutions, essential for its customers. IMERYS INDUSTRIAL MINERALS GREECE S.A. mines and processes industrial minerals, mainly bentonite and perlite. 

 

Read more: https://www.imerys.com


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Objective Action

The aim is to find, protect, develop and use the endemic, rare and endangered plants of Milos island, and to enrich the rehabilitation process in old mines. Moreover, our project’s aim is to create new safe habitats for the aforementioned plant species within the rehabilitation areas.

 

Target Audience

Local society of Milos and visitors of the island, people of all ages.

 

Duration

The initiative was launched in 2015 and will continue for at least five years, with a view to its extension.

 


Description

Milos island, with a 151,000 sq. km surface area, boasts an extremely rich flora of 810 plant species and subspecies, according to the latest available data (Raus 2012, Strid. 2016, Trigas 2016). Eleven of these endemic species spotted around our mines in

Milos are of particular interest (Trigas 2016). Three of them (Dianthus fruticosus subsp. fruticosus, Hymenonema graecum and Silene cythnia) are protected according to Greek laws (Presidential Decree 67/81).

This initiative comprises the collection of seeds from rare, endemic and threatened plant species of Milos, their reproduction in the Company's plant nursery and, ultimately, the planting of these seeds/plants at the Company’s mine rehabilitation works in order to enrich the restoration’s plant potential.

At our Milos plant nursery, six (6) of these species are reproduced and since 2017 they have been used for rehabilitation purposes at the mines of IMERYS GREECE S.A.:

1. Dianthus fruticosus subsp. fruticosus: Small endemic and rare shrub of Milos and the western Cyclades, it can be found in steep cliffs of perlite composition. It blooms in June and August. The Reclamation Department of the company identified the species in 2009. Its natural population is relatively small and difficult to access, and its seeds are also relatively difficult to collect because of uneven maturation. Germination, on the other hand, presents no particular difficulties as far as it is done just after the collection (early autumn). Seeds do not maintain their germination capacity for more than 7 months. It is reproduced in large numbers (1,000 plants / year) at the Milos plant nursery and is being used successfully in the benches of company mines.

2. Hymenonema graecum: A herbaceous plant, very harvested on Milos, although it is endemic and, at least in theory, its collection is forbidden. It blooms between May and July. The Reclamation Department of the company identified the species in 2009. Its natural population is very large.  The collection of its seeds is quite easy, as well as germination. Sowing should be done early in autumn. The seeds do not maintain germination capacity for more than 7 months. The plant reproduced at our nursery in small numbers (100 plants / year) but has been successfully planted at the Trachilas and Tsigrado mines’ rehabilitation areas. Since 2017 its seeds are used in our Trachilas mine hydro-seeding program. Working closely with the Athens Agricultural University, the company promotes its cultivation by farmers.

3. Silene cythnia: Small, endemic, rare shrub found on rocky slopes. The Reclamation Department of the company identified the species in 2003. The plant’s natural population is very small

and hard to reach. It does not produce seeds every year and their collection is relatively difficult because of uneven maturation. Germination presents no particular difficulties as long as it is done immediately after the collection of seeds (in early autumn).

Seeds do not maintain their germination capacity for more than 7 months. The species is developed at the company's nursery in small numbers (100 plants / year) and used in selected

locations at all our Milos rehabilitation works. We currently attempt to create an “artificial” plant cluster in an easily accessible place for monitoring and seed collection.

4. Caroxylon aegaeum: Rare shrub, endemic only in the Western Aegean. It was first collected in Milos by French officer Dumont d'Urville in 1819. The Reclamation Department of the company identified the species in 2000. Its natural population is relatively

small. Collection of its seeds is relatively difficult because these are discarded from the plant immediately after maturation. Germination is relatively difficult since the seeds need to

undergo refrigerated stratification in order to germinate. The seeds’ germination capacity does not exceed 5 months. It is reproduced in the company's nursery in Milos in large numbers (800 plants / year) and is used successfully at all our Milos mines rehabilitation works. The use of the seeds for hydro-seeding is being currently investigated.

5. Dianthus diffusus: Endemic plant species with a geographical spread limited to Central Greece, the Peloponnese and the islands of Western Aegean and the Cyclades. It was identified in 2016 (Trigas study). Its natural population is large. Collection of its

seeds is relatively easy as long as the weather conditions are suitable for the plant’s blooming. Germination is not difficult as long as it is done immediately after the collection of seeds (in

early autumn). Seeds do not maintain their germination potential for more than 7 months. The species is reproduced at the company's nursery in small numbers (100 plants / year) and used

in selected locations at all our Milos rehabilitation works.

6. Crocus tournefortii: Endemic plant species of the Aegean islands, limited to the central and southern Aegean. It is a herbaceous plant found next to phrygana shrubs. It was identified in 2014 (Trigas). Its natural population is large. Seed collection is almost impossible due to the plant’s physiology (it dries, and seeds become impossible to spot). In 2017, we first managed to collect its seeds from plants grown in large containers. We are currently investigating the way its seeds germinate since they present the “dormancy phenomenon”. Reproduction of the species on a

small scale is being carried out through the collection of bulbs from a specific area of our Trachilas mine (around 100 plants / year). They are used in selected locations of our Milos

rehabilitation works.

For the remaining five (5) rare and endemic plant species research will continue: Helictocloa agropyroides, Onopordum caulescens,

Allium pilosum, Centaurea laconica subsp lineariloba, Sedum praesidis.


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Impact on Society

Collection of seeds from 6 (six) rare, endemic and threatened plant species on Milos. Reproduction of these plants in the company plant nursery as follows:

Dianthus fruticosus subsp. Fruticosus, about 1000 plants per year

Hymenonema graecum, about 100 plants per year

Silene cythnia, about 100 plants per year

Caroxylon aegaeum, about 800 plants per year

Dianthus diffusus, about 100 plants per year

Crocus tournefortii, about 100 plants per year

 

All these plant species planted in restored mines safeguard the environment and nature, also enriching the rehabilitation process of the mining areas.



Initiative Location

The company’s Plant Nursery on Milos and old mines under rehabilitation.

 


Working with Organization

Cooperation with the Agricultural University of Athens and the National Agricultural Research Foundation (N.AG.RE.F.) in order to record, to identify and to reproduce the above rare, endemic and threatened plant species on Milos island.


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Workers Participation

All four (4) employees from the Rehabilitation Department of IMERYS GREECE S.A. participated in the collection, reproduction and planting works at rehabilitated mines.


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