The geographical location of Saudi Arabia has provided an ideal environment for the growth and nourishment of various floristic elements including medicinal and aromatic plant (MAP) species. The country is gifted with diverse vegetation types occurring in the desert, semi-desert, and mountainous ecosystems. Furthermore, the country represents three phytogeographic regions: Saharo-Sindian, Somali-Masur and Afro-Montane with 24 different ecosystems having more than 2200 species of flowering plants. Out of this, 246 are endemic to the Kingdom and several species are believed to be threatened because of various reasons and need ecological assessment and survey. In addition, there is no shortage of places in Saudi Arabia with occasional glimpse of sub-alpine and alpine vegetation types. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is home to precious wide range of globally threatened species of plant resources with a number of progenitors of economically useful crops and a multitude of MAPs, having applications for the development of pharmaceutical industries and possesses agro-industrial potentialities. Presently this region faces serious threats to plant species and their habitats spurred by demographic, economic and technological changes, habitat degradation and injudiciously laid infrastructure schemes. In this context, we realize the importance of the biological heritage of the mountainous and arid ecosystem of the country, with the aim to take a number of substantive measures to protect its biological diversity with special reference to MAPs. The overall goal of the study was to provide baseline studies and useful suggestions to conserve globally significant MAP species and associated habitats in different ecologically important core area and hotspots (of biodiversity) of Saudi Arabia. The present study endeavours’ to create people’s awareness and involvement for the conservation of MAPs through ingraining their importance in their minds. Sensitization and realization of the plant scientists is required to focus on the sustainable use, conservation and management requirements of the valuable MAP species, so that their sustainable production and conservation with the development of balanced ecosystem may lead the country to sustainable income and other welfare.
Key words: Biodiversity, mankind survival, economic importance, local people, environmental hazards.
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