Usage of medicinal and aromatic plants in the world, in the last decade increased, what could be seen through increased number of products on the market of pharmaceutics, cosmetic, chemical, food and related industries. In the previous long period, medicinal plants were on the margin of social interest of many countries. However, thanks to plenty of scientific and professional meetings, development of analytical methods and related tools, through the introduction of new technologies of cultivation and processing, medicinal plants gained great significance in the sense of economy.

It should be point out that medicinal plants survive as the subject of investigation of many scientist in the previous period. Because of their number and diversity, plants continuing to attract researchers from different scientific fields as biology, agronomy, chemistry, pharmacy, pharmacology and others are.

Institute for Medicinal Plant Research "Dr Josif Pančić", Belgrade, has.comanised the I Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Southeast European Countries in co-operation with Federal Institute for Plant and Animal Genetic Resources (Belgrade). The initiative and agreement for.comanising the Conference have been achieved at the V Manifestation "Days of Medicinal Plants", 1998, in Banja Koviljača.

This Conference is surely the most important meeting in the field of medicinal and aromatic plants, which has been.comanised in Yugoslavia. It is very important for the region. Conference approved our position that medicinal and aromatic plant deserving much more serious and comprehensive approach, not only of scientists dealing with this subject, but also all those which could influence more adequate status of medicinal and aromatic plants in the economy of our countries. The First Conference and joined the Sixth Meeting "Days of Medicinal Plants", as well as papers printed in this book, will be huge stimulant to all those thinking to come closer in this field of work. Simultaneously, new knowledge, which Book of Proceedings is offering, will facilitate and speed up our search and revelation of new and better solutions in each of investigated fields.

General sponsor of the First Conference was Federal Ministry for Science, Development and Environment of Yugoslavia. Meeting was successfully.comanised because of great number of other sponsors, as well.

It is very important to emphasis that representatives from countries out of the region of the Southeast Europe have also jointed the Conference. This point out the importance of.comanising the Conference for the exchange of recent scientific information and results obtained in each participating country. Also, there was necessity for mutual exchange of the experiences, to perceive the possibilities for common projects and co-operation improvement, both on scientific and economic basis.

Three introductory lectures from the fields of agronomy, phytochemistry and pharmacology have been presented, approaching the global situation on medicinal plants. Plenary lectures from Hungary, Slovakia, FYR Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Greece, Canada, China and Yugoslavia informed the participants about the status of medicinal plants in each mentioned country. Four thematic lectures, which were presented too, revealed efforts in few selected fields of the working subject.

More than 200 participants from 12 countries took part in the Conference, contributing very active with their papers from the following fields: systematic, biodiversity, preservation and sustainable use of natural resources, biotechnology, genetic resources, selection and seed production, breeding, cultivation, phytochemistry, pharmacology and toxicology, industrial processing, quality control and standardisation and economic aspects of medicinal and aromatic plant cultivation, processing and trade.

The preservation of medicinal and aromatic plants biodiversity, rational utilisation of natural resources and protection of medicinal plant native populations, were being treated from several aspects, such as: floristic, phytocoenological, ecological, economic and aspect of the legislative regulation and supervision. Special attention has been paid to the rare, vulnerable, endemic and relict species, as well as, plants included into the Red Data Book of certain participating countries.

Distribution of medicinal and aromatic plants, like hyssop and gentian, in particular regions of Southeast Europe, then mapping of medicinal flora and vegetation, through determination of plant communities where medicinal species spontaneously develop, were presented by several scientific reports.

Significant contribution was achieved by papers dealing with plant classification according to the principles of chemotaxonomy, like in the cases of Helichrysum, Pinus, Solanum, Astragalus and Inula species.

Large number of papers has treated significant agronomy subjects. Authors have presented results relating to the cultivation of several wild medicinal species. Influence of agrotechnical measures, such as plant density, fertilisation with macro and microelements, then application of plant growth regulators on medicinal plant yield and quality, have been presented too. Some papers dealt with transplant production modality. Utilisation of machines in medicinal plant harvesting was also discussed.

Authors have significantly contributed to the comprehension of certain plant diseases, located on the vegetative and reproductive plant.comans. Presented papers enveloped the problem of pests and perennial weeds in medicinal plants.

The influence of soil and other ecological factors on the quality of medicinal and aromatic plants was also presented. The need for control of heavy metal content in plant raw gathered both from breeding and collecting has been emphasised. Content of macroelements and its significance for medicinal plants has also been shown.

Camomile and mint were the most represented subjects of investigations in the field of breeding and seed science. Research of ecological sort stability and creation of new genotypes by method of cloning was reported. Problems treated in seed science were influence of the harvesting time on the yield and seed quality, then presence of pathogens and seed fractions quality. Results concerning the new hybrid of particular medicinal plant were presented.

Several papers showed the data relating to the medicinal plant gene-fond and the way of its preserving and conservation in individual countries.

Impressive number of papers treated the problems of micro-propagation and tissue culture in medicinal and aromatic plants, contributing most of all to the field of developmental physiology.

It may be noted that phytochemical investments were focused on essential oils in large number of plant species (13), then flavonoids, analytical methods development and investigation of different plant compounds as active components.

The investigation regarding the phytopreparations characteristics and pharmacological effect of plant extracts has been presented. Smaller number of papers pointed out the isolation of plant constituents responsible for pharmacological activity of extracts. Several contributions dealt with therapeutic efficacy of phytopreparations, which is very actual subject at the moment. Studies on the efficacy of phytopreparations represent the necessity for serious production of medicinal plant products. Papers concerning the research of anti-oxidative, antimutagenic, anticancerogenic and antimicrobial effects of particular plant isolates were also presented at the Conference.

Total number of papers included in Book of Abstracts was 170, where among 3 introductory lectures, 12 plenary and thematic lectures and further 29 oral presentations, along with 126 posters, were announced. During the Conference 128 contributions were presented, where 3 were introductory, 12 plenary and thematic lectures, further 19 oral presentations and 94 posters. As it can be seen, some of authors had not been in situation to participate active in Conference program. However,.comaniser is satisfied with reached level of 75.3% of presented papers, even more because all announced introductory, plenary and thematic lectures were kept as it had been planed. Concerning the participation of individual countries in the Conference, the following survey could be given. Bulgaria participated with 18 papers, Romania with 14, Greece 12, Slovakia 11, Slovenia 6, FYR Macedonia 5, Hungary 3, Italy 2, Canada, China and Republic of Srpska 1 and Yugoslavia, as a host with 95 papers. Bulgaria was represented with 1 plenary lecture, 4 (instead of 3) oral presentations and 7 (instead of 13) posters, Canada with 1 plenary lecture, China with 1 thematic lecture, FYR Macedonia with 1 plenary lecture and 3 (instead of 4) posters, Greece with 1 plenary and 1 thematic lecture, 1 (instead of 2) oral presentations and 9 (instead of 8) posters, Hungary with 2 introductory and 1 plenary lectures, Italy with 1 introductory lecture and 1 poster, Romania with 5 posters (instead of 13 and 1 oral presentation), Slovakia with 1 plenary lecture, 1 oral presentation (instead of 2) and 7 (instead of 8) posters, Slovenia with 1 plenary and 1 thematic lecture, 2 oral presentation and 2 posters, Republic of Srpska with 1 oral presentation and 1 poster, and the host - FR Yugoslavia with 1 plenary and 1 thematic lecture, 11 (instead of 17) oral presentations and 59 (instead of 75) posters.

At the Conference presentation of 3 companies' 1 software and 7 new book were promoted.

During the Conference, participants made agreement on the followings:

  1. The Second Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Southeast European Countries (II CMAPSEEC) will be held in 2002, in Greece on the island of Crete.

  2. The Seventh Meeting Days of Medicinal Plants will be held in 2001, in Yugoslavia.

  3. Bylaws of the Association for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Southeast European Countries (AMAPSEEC) have been adopted.

  4. Headquarter of the AMAPSEEC will be in Belgrade.

  5. Foundation of the Association will be co-ordinated by Institute for Medicinal Plant Research "Dr Josif Pančić", Belgrade.

  6. Deadline for submitting of full paper for publication in Proceedings of the first Conference will be prolonged till June 20, 2000.

  7. Book of Proceedings from the first Conference will be printed till the end of August and distributed to all registered participants by mail.

Organisation of such meetings has the invaluable significance, originating from possibilities of exchanging not only scientific and professional knowledge, but commercial information's too. Connecting through the projects and associations of researchers and professionals from and out of region will greatly facilitate and accelerate achievement of the results, which could have quite real utilisation.

Huge number of contributions and participants, as well as participating countries, justifies determination of the Institute for Medicinal Plant Research "Dr Josif Pančić" to.comanise this Conference along with Federal Institute for Plant and Animal Genetic Resources (Belgrade) and help of other institution and companies.

Finally, it should be point out justified optimism's, not only.comaniser's – but those of all the participants, that the Second Conference, which will be held at the end of June 2002, in Greece, at the island of Crete, will surely attract much more participants.

President of the Scientific Committee
President of Organising Committee
Dragana Sekulović PhD
Srboljub Maksimović PhD