The lack of water is an issue of major concern throughout the Mediterranean, both because of population growth and of predictions of the increasing incidence of drought associated with climate change. Perennial plants utilise water more efficiently than annuals but are sometimes more difficult to grow, and so Mediterranean farming systems have tended to become ?annual species orientated?. In the context of the need to improve water use efficiency, the historical failure to have developed the native herbaceous perennial species, which are widely distributed from the sub-humid to the arid climates of the Mediterranean, is serious. This project will address this deficiency as well as begin the development of farming systems, which utilise these newly available perennial cultivars. Potentially, a dozen perennial species could be included in the proposal. However, as forage science and breeding in the area have very limited resources at their disposal, the project will concentrate the effort on a few species, which are of common interest across the region. At present, most of these species are commonly bred in and for more temperate climates. Much less work has been carried out for Mediterranean areas, and beginnings are only just being made in the Southern Mediterranean Basin. In order to enhance plant breeding for this region, scientific expertise from northern teams would be very useful in certain fields, e.g. germplasm collection. However, both Northern and Southern Mediterranean forage improvement teams need to improve their existing plant germplasm for certain water use traits. These include resistance to long severe summer droughts together with high growth rates and high water use efficiency (WUE) during the cool rainy season. In addition, even in irrigated, dry marginal areas in North Africa, the decrease of water reserves is imposing increasingly drastic reductions on the water supply to lucerne, which is the main irrigated forage crop. Consequently, optimisation of water use and improvement in drought resistance have also become important improvement objectives for this species.