The Biodiversity and Environmental Research Center (BERC) was one of the earliest centers of its kind to be established in Palestine as a Non-Governmental Organization. Its main headquarters at Til Village – Nablus, were officially established in 2001.
The center was mainly aimed to:
- produce basic and applied information on biodiversity, horticulture, environment, and related biotechnology, and to manage and communicate this information to stakeholders.
- share our knowledge effectively on as wide a front as possible.
- establish the center as an authoritative institution in the interpretation and teaching of systematic botany and fungi, horticulture, conservation, biodiversity assessment and management, herbarium and botanic gardens management, and medicinal plants.
- assist actively in capacity building of biodiversity, agriculture, environmental sciences, and related biotechnology.
- network effectively with leading universities, research centers, colleges, schools and other similar institutions to develop research and education in above-mentioned fields.
BERC’s first project
In 2001-2002, BERC carried out its first project on “Conservation of Palestine Biodiversity” which resulted in the establishment of the first Botanic Gardens in Palestine “BERC-Til Botanic Gardens”, on a 15,000 square meters area in Til village, Nablus district. Not only has the BERC-Til educational garden reforested a significant piece of land with more than a hundred species of Palestinian endogenous plants many of which are endangered plants, it has also created a hub for learning and research about the environment.
By 2018, BERC has been able to execute more than 20 research and community-based projects in different fields.
BERC comprises three institutes:
Biodiversity and Biotechnology Institute –BBI
The BBI comprises two departments: Conservation Science Department (including a Botanic Gardens Unit including a Seed Bank and a Herbarium), and Sustainable Agriculture Department.
BBI work is centered on carrying out research and studies in biological diversity and applied biology including biotechnology, horticulture, and pest control using environmentally sound methods.
BBI’s work also includes the management of BERC-Til Botanic Gardens including design of educational programs and public awareness associated with conservation programs and their implementation.
Traditional Arabic Palestinian Medicine Institute-TAPMI
The TAPMI comprises two departments: Ethnobotany and Ethnopharmacology Department including a Bio-Exploration Unit.
TAPMI is aimed at exploring ethnobotanic and ethnopharmacological information on plants currently used for treating various ailments in Traditional Arabic Palestinian Herbal Medicine (TAPHM) in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Bio-Exploration Unit teaches and supports the public the use of screening technology for exploring the vast unexplored local flora. The Palestinian flora can be a source of new products and thereby stimulate the local economy by creating new sources of industrial development and jobs for its people. All of this was planned to be done in a way that would protect the environment, the flora and especially threatened plant species.
The educational programs aim to increase the public’s awareness of the value of the native flora and the importance of conserving it.
Environmental and Engineering Technology Institute-EETI
The EETI includes one department, Water and Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Department.
The institute is mainly focused on carrying out research and studies aimed at generating basic and applied information in the fields of environmental sciences and management and dissemination of this information on as wide a front as possible. It’s also includes education, training, and technical consultations, and public awareness programs in water and wastewater treatment and reuse-related issues.
To achieve its goals, BERC has established strong scientific cooperation programs local and regional institutions, universities, ministries, and NGOs, as well as with several international universities and institutions from Germany, USA, UK, France, Jordan, Spain, Greece, Lebanon, and Egypt.
Links with the Local Community
The aspects through which BERC asserted its role in the community are numerous, as many staff members served as authors for books and publication that were informative and important for researchers, farmers, students, and the public at large, and held conferences, training courses, and workshops in many fields.
BERC also plays a role in education by increasing public knowledge of the value and vital importance of biodiversity and environment and to increase recognition of, and support for, its work. BERC will continue to network effectively with leading institutions to develop relevant biodiversity and environmental sciences education.
Research Laboratories and Facilities at BERC:
The center includes two main buildings, namely the buildings of the institutes Biodiversity and Biotechnology Institute-BBI, and Traditional Arabic Palestinian Medicine Institute-TAPMI, and the Environmental and Engineering Technology Institute EETI.
The research laboratories include the main facilities required for scientific research in the target fields including sterile benches, incubators, growth chambers, controlled-environment greenhouse, microscopes, PCRs, gel electrophoresis systems, gel documentation systems), hydrodistilators, freeze drier, High performance liquid chromatography –HPLC, MBR unit, RO unit, chlorophyll meter, spectrophotometers (e.g., multi-scan spectrophotometer), crosslinker and transilluminator, deep freeze, ice maker, leaf porometer, infra-red thermometer, osmometer, chloride-meter, and several other standard equipment in addition to green houses.
in addition to equipments BERC have experimental fields, field gene banks and plant collections (e.g., fig collection, olive collection) needed for Experiments.
Since its establishment in 2001, BERC has carried a total of 23 projects in the following fields:
Number of projects executed over the period 2001-2018
BERC has received funding from different external agencies including:
- Oxfam UK,
- Ministry of Higher Education and Research of France (MESR)
- Bio-Xplore. European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), Cross-Border Cooperation in the Mediterranean (CBCM),
- MENA Water Research Grants,
- DFG Project,
- SGP/ GEF / UNDP,
- USAID-MERC program.
Since 2000, BERC scientists have authored about 90 scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals, in different fields including Medicinal Plants, Ethnobotany, Ethnopharmacology, Plant Ecology and Conservation Biology, Water and Wastewater Treatment and Reuse Research, Environmental Biotechnology, Plant Molecular Biology, Phytopathology & Biocontrol Science, Dermatophytosis, Keratinophilic Fungi, Candidiasis, Environmental Health, Molecular Genetics, Crop breeding, Biodiversity and Red-listing of Endogenous Plants of Palestine.
Annual distribution of publications