Friends of Socotra conference and meeting

18th FoS International Conference and Annual General Meeting

Villa Malfitano, September 26th – 29th, 2019

International Socotra Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Socotra (FoS).

The “Friends of Soqotra” (or Friends of Socotra, both spellings are possible) meet every year gathering naturalists, botanists, marine biologists, geographers, sociologists, linguists, archeologists, explorers, writers, travellers interested in Socotra from all over the world. Presentations and discussions occur for ongoing projects and scientific research about Socotra. Attendees actively promote awareness for the conservation of the unique culture and nature of the Archipelago and its sustainable development. The aim is to create an event that brings together all people with a heart for the Socotra Archipelago, its biodiversity, its myths and traditions, its history and future.

A photography exhibition of FoS’ former and current activities about the island will be installed at the meeting venue during the conference days.

Venue and area map

Villa Malfitano – Whitaker, venue of the FoS Conference (source:
Map of Palermo city centre with venues and public transport (click on image to download printable map).


First day: Thursday Sep 26th, 2019

Sala Lanza – Botanic Garden of Palermo

10.30 – 16.30 Registration at the Botanic Garden

16.30 – 18.00 Welcome address

  • Fondazione pro Herbario Mediterraneo
  • UNESCO office GCC and Yemen
  • Yemeni Government Authorities
  • University of Palermo
  • City of Palermo
  • Sicilian Region
  • Yemen Embassy to Italy
  • Friends of Soqotra

18.00 – 19.30 Tour of the side events and Socotra exhibitions

19.30 – 20.30 Welcome dinner at the Botanic Garden court

Second day: Friday Sep 27th, 2019

Villa Malfitano – Palermo

08.00 – 09.00 Registration

Session 1. Systematics & Evolution – Chairperson Francesco M. Raimondo

  • 9.00-9.20 Francesco Maria Raimondo – Results of scientific expeditions carried out in Socotra (Yemen) in 2008 and 2014 by the Botanical Garden and Herbarium of the University of Palermo
  • 9.20-9.40 Franco Palla – Preliminary genome survey of Dracaena cinnabari and Punica protopunica, two emblematic flowering plants endemic to Socotra
  • 9.40-10.00 Gianniantonio Domina – Molecular and morphological data on Turraea socotrana (Meliaceae) from Socotra (Yemen)
  • 10.00-10.20Raquel Vasconselos – Insights on island diversification from the endemic Haemodracon geckos of the Socotra Archipelago
  • 10.20-10.40 Attilio Carapezza – Heteroptera (Arthropoda: Insecta) of the Socotra Archipelago

10.40 – 11.00 Coffee break

Session 2. Land Management – Chairperson Petr Madĕra

  • 11.00-11.20 Petr Madĕra – Development of the Boswellia elongata population in Homhil Nature Sanctuary
  • 11.20-11.40 Abdulraqeb Al-Okaishi – Local management system of Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari) resin in Firmihin, Socotra Island
  • 11.40-12.00 Marcelo Rezende – Land productivity dynamics in Socotra (Yemen): An indicator of land degradation
  • 12.00-12.20Petr Vahalík – Mapping of the Socotra Archipelago for the purpose of sustainable land management – a demographic survey

12.20 – 14.00 Lunch break

Session 3. Conservation & Development – Chairperson Kay Van Damme

  • 14.00-14.20 Kay Van Damme – The aquatic ecosystems of Socotra: diversity and challenges
  • 14.20-14.40 Salem Hamdiah – Rehabilitation and conservation of Boswellia species on Socotra Island by indigenous people
  • 14.40-15.00 Anna Paolini – The WH and MAB site of Socotra – an irreplaceable wealth for humanity
  • 15.00-15.20 Haifaa Abdulhalim – Sustainable Development as good practice for disaster resilience

15.20 – 15.40 Coffee break

Session 4. Ecology – Chairperson Fabio Attorre

  • 15.40-16.00 Martin Rejžek – The change of plant community composition and diversity following loss of Dracaena cinnabari acting as a nurse tree
  • 16.00-16.20 Fabio Attorre – The role of Dracaena cinnabari forest on the hydrogeological system of Socotra Island
  • 16.20-16.40 Alfredo Guillet – Toward a viable management of the water cycle: follow-up to a case of application in Socotra of the system approach

17.00 – 17.20 Coffee break

17:20 – 19.00 Socotra documentary/Movie (tbd)

19.00 – 21.00 Joint dinner in the beautiful garden of Villa Malfitano

Third day: Saturday Sep 28th, 2019

Sala Lanza – Botanic Garden of Palermo

Session 5. Chairperson Aurelio Angelini

09.40 – 10.00 Coffee break

10.00 – 12.30 Annual General Meeting FoS – Activities 2019, Current and future projects, reports, round table discussions (including powerpoint presentations on local projects) – open to all attendants

12.30 – 14.00 Lunch at the Orto Botanico

14.00 – 18.00 Annual General Meeting FoS – Activities 2019, Current and future projects, reports, round table discussions (cont.) (with coffee break at 16.00) – open to all attendants

18.00 – 19.00 Closing remarks of the conference

19.00 – 21.00 Joint dinner after moving to Vucciria market (walking distance from the Botanic Garden: 15/20 min.)

Fourth day: Sunday Sep 29th, 2019

09.00 – 13.30 Walking sightseeing of old Palermo through the Capo market, the Cathedral, the Royal Palace and Piazza Pretoria (Meeting Point at Piazza Verdi 9.00)

13.30 – 15.00 Transfer by bus to Mondello around Monte Pellegrino through Addaura coastal road. Lunch at a beach restaurant.

15.00 – 19.00 Return to Palermo through La Favorita Park and walking sightseeing through Piazza Marina (the largest tree in Europe), the old port, the Kalsa and the Foro Italico water front.

19.00 – 21.00 Yemeni dinner at Ballarò Old Market at Moltivolti co-working and social restaurant ( meeting at the B&B hotel- walking distance from the hotel: 10/15 min)

Registered participants can make their reservation for dinners and city sightseeing at the information desk at Villa Malfitano (starting from Sept. 26th) or by email at