Connect 2 Socotra

Project name :

Connect 2 Socotra

Project duration :


Location :

Socotra, Yemen
Campaign to raise awareness on the rich and distinct natural and cultural heritage on Socotra

The Connect 2 Socotra Campaign

Objectives of the Campaign

  • Raising international awareness on the great richness and the vulnerability of the unique biodiversity of the Socotra Archipelago and the importance and methods of its conservation
  • Sensitizing on the need to safeguard the richness of Socotra’s unique intangible cultural heritage, in particular about knowledge and practices related to nature and universe, and the Socotri language 
  • Supporting the efforts of Yemen’s Environment Protection Authority and its branch on Socotra in preserving and promoting biodiversity 
  • Identifying follow-up actions to be taken for further preservation of the Archipelago’s natural and cultural heritage 
  • Stimulate research on the impact of climate change and other threats on the Archipelago’s biodiversity and propose mitigation measures.

Focus of the Campaign's Events

Each participating organization focus on a topic or group of organism of interest (e.g., one species of endemic plants, a group of plants in the collection, historical collections, or entire ecosystems such as coral reefs). The events are linked to knowledge and practices concerning relevant ecosystems and the challenges they face around the world and in the host country.

  • In the field of nature, events will pay particular attention to the link with other natural World Heritage properties, the study of insular endemic species and lineages, conservation needs and methods, including traditional methods, and the main threats to natural heritage.
  • To raise awareness on the need to safeguard the Archipelago’s cultural heritage, the campaign will also focus on the knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe of the local population, oral traditions, indigenous languages or the challenges to conserve vernacular architecture.   


Botanical Garden and Mediterranean Herbarium of the University of Palermo, Italy

In September 2019, the Friends of Socotra Association organised its 18th International Conference and Annual General Meeting in Palermo, linked to the Socotra in Sicilia event, under the patronage of UNESCO. The Connect 2 Socotra campaign was launched on 26 September, also showcasing beautiful photographs of Socotran plants and coral reef biodiversity. The first official exhibition within the campaign was opened to public, organized by the Botanical Garden and Mediterranean Herbarium of the University of Palermo. Visitors, including high ranking officials of the central Yemeni Government and of the Socotra Governorate, and other attendants received a guided tour at the opening of the exhibitions by Prof. Francesco Maria Raimondo, former Director of the Garden. Continuing into the first week of October, the exhibition was located in different areas in the garden and included several of Socotra’s spectacular endemic plants and herbarium specimens. More than 20 herbarium specimens from Socotra were on display to the general public for the first time and the exhibition was accompanied with panels that displayed general information and IUCN Red List categories of over 30 important plant species from Socotra, translated in Italian and English. 

Botanic Garden of Rome, Italy

The Botanical Garden of Rome reserved a space in the Garden to exhibit photographs of Socotran landscapes, endemic plants and marine biodiversity, moved from the Palermo exhibition. These photographs can be visited every weekend for the duration of the campaign. On 11-13 October 2019, local events were organised including opening the photographs to public, a series of scientific presentations by Director of the Botanical Garden Dr Fabio Attorre and by Dr Alfredo Guillet. The talks  linked conservation, water use, climate change and other important challenges to plant biodiversity on Socotra, and were introduced by HE Ms Asmahan Abdulhameed Hezam Altoqi, the Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen to Italy. Visitors were given a tour of the Botanical Garden by the Director to show Socotra plant collections and discuss the importance of conservation. In the evenings, the awarded movie by Spanish director Jordi Esteva, “Socotra, the Island of Djinns” (entirely spoken in Socotri language) was shown.

Another important photographic exhibition was held on 8th December, with a great audience participation.  

Ghent University Botanical Garden, Belgium

A temporary exhibition related to Socotra’s fascinating plants and current threats to the Archipelago’s fragile insular ecosystems, such as climate change impacts, exotic species and overgrazing, is centred around the Victoria Greenhouse at Ghent University Botanical Garden (November-December 2019). Visitors can admire photographs, Socotran plant products and a few live endemics from the Socotra Archipelago that are present in the Garden since over 50 years. Using a map, visitors have to search for close relatives to some Socotran endemics throughout the Garden, such as the Dragon Blood Tree, the Pomegranate or widespread plants present on Socotra and risky exotic species found in the Archipelago, to learn about their importance, uses, stories and challenges that connect us through nature and culture. The activity, providing a momentary glimpse to the natural and cultural heritage of Socotra through its plants, links to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.


CIBIO-InBIO, University of Porto, Portugal

On November 29 and 30, 2019 the film "Socotra, the island of djinns" by Jordi Esteva will be exhibited in the CIBIO-InBIO headquarters and in the Hall of Biodiversity, respectively, under the scope of the campaign Connect 2 Socotra designed to raise awareness on the rich and distinct natural and cultural heritage of Socotra and promote scientific research in the archipelago. The session will be hosted by Raquel Vasconcelos, who is currently working on the conservation of genetic diversity in insular biodiversity hotspot systems, including the Socotra Archipelago. It will count with the presence of the Biodiversity Manager of Socotra Governorate, Salem Hamdiah.

Meise Botanic Garden, Belgium

Meise Botanical Garden (Belgium) plans to showcase the largest dried collection of marine algae from Socotra that have formed the basis of scientific research. The collection was recently moved from Ghent University Botanical Garden. A webpage will be designed during the campaign and announced at the Garden to show the importance of this collection for conservation and biodiversity.

National Museums Liverpool, UK

World Museum Liverpool will run a display on the Biodiversity of Socotra, from 19 October 2019 to 10 January 2020, showcasing the collections of James Raymond Wellsted (1834) and Henry Forbes (1898-99). The display will also highlight the role of Liverpool Museum in establishing the baseline for understanding the biodiversity of the plants and animals of Socotra.

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, UK

During the campaign, RBGE and specifically it’s Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, provide weekly social media soundbites highlighting aspects of the natural and cultural diversity of Socotra and its conservation. The Garden hosted one public event during the Climate Week 2019 (7-13 October 2019), including a presentation by Dr Tony Miller, RBGE Research Associate and expert on the flora of the Middle East. Dr Miller led a guided tour behind the scenes of RBGE’s Arabian living plant collections, showing how some of the plants have developed unique responses to rain and fog and how climate change might affect them in the future. During the period of the campaign RBGE, and in particular CMEP hope to host additional meetings and discussions, which will be communicated once more details are arranged. The talks specifically relate to Climate Change and the adaptations and potential effects on plants across Arabia but focusing on the flora of Socotra. All connect2socotra events are publicized in the RBGE twitter and facebook pages. 

Mendel University Arboretum and Department of Forest Botany, Czech Republic

Researchers with ongoing projects on Socotra from Mendel University Arboretum and the Department of Forest Botany, Dendrology and Geobiocoenology in Brno dedicated a number of scientific articles about the plants and their conservation to the campaign, published in the journal Nova Botanika. A series of six broadcasts in for the radio program Scientific Adventures in the Czech National Radio on research activities in Socotra related to plant conservation, and assessing the impacts of grazing and climate change, are also dedicated and related to the campaign.

Lower Morava Biosphere Reserve, Czech Republic

Connect 2 Socotra activities in the Lower Morava Biosphere Reserve in November-December 2019 are linked to those at Mendel University in Brno. Researchers from the latter university will organize a series of public lectures on Socotra conservation and challenges for terrestrial ecosystems, in cities within Lower Morava, together with staff of the Biosphere Reserve. The reserve is twinning with the Socotra Man and Biosphere Reserve.

The Bent Archive

Through the website of the Bent Archive and the facebook page, links between the past of Socotra (archives from the visits of Theodore and Mabel Bent in 1897) will be highlighted and connected to the present. These posts will be dedicated to the campaign; link to the dedicated webpage.