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Is the vegetation archetype of the Garden of Eden located in the Irano-Turanian region and safe against climate change?

Abstract

The search for the Garden of Eden has been going on for centuries. However, no one has yet attempted to associate it with the occurrence of a specific natural type of vegetation. We are also not aware what its current state and chances of survival are. In this work, we try to define the vegetation of Paradise, to visualize its past and predict its future in a climate-changing world. We selected 941 vegetation samples meeting the criteria extracted from biblical descriptions and assigned them to 12 different woody and grove vegetation types. Based on the analysis of functional traits (the fruiting type as well as the start, end and duration of the fruiting and flowering season), taxonomic and ethnobotanical diversity, we found that the most probable archetype of Eden’s vegetation is the Pistacia khinjuk grove. The identification and preservation of the vegetation in which Man found safe shelter at the dawn of civilization is of fundamental importance for all humanity, and thus, we model its past extent and future perspectives. We found that Adam and Eve’s refuge may disappear during our children’s lifetime.

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Data availability

The datasets generated and analysed during the current study are available in the FigShare repository, https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.14730876 (Nowak et al. 2021).

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful F. Illarionova from the Nature Protection Team, Dushanbe, for assistance and help in organizing surveys in Middle Asia. We would like to thank the Erasmus team of the University of Opole for their support in organizing expeditions to Iran. Many thanks to the anonymous Reviewers and the Editor for the valuable comments that improve the manuscript considerably.

Funding

The research was funded by the National Science Centre, Poland, grant no. 2018/29/B/NZ9/00313 and 2020/04/X/NZ8/00032 and partially supported by grant no. 2017/25/B/NZ8/00572.

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Nowak, A., Świerszcz, S., Naqinezhad, A. et al. Is the vegetation archetype of the Garden of Eden located in the Irano-Turanian region and safe against climate change?. Reg Environ Change 22, 75 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-022-01929-9

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ethnobotany
  • Functional diversity
  • Garden of Eden
  • Open woodlands
  • Pistacia khinjuk