World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


CONSERVING BIODIVERSITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST - 2/5: Conservation and restoration in the Middle East; successes, challenges, methodologies (066) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: TUE 20, 9.00-11.00 am

· NOT_DEFINED institution: Centre for Middle Eastern Plants - part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Tony Miller

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: This panel examines contemporary case studies of in situ biodiversity conservation and restoration projects in the Middle East. The aims of the panel are to demonstrate both the successes and the problems of Middle East biodiversity projects and also to discuss practical methodologies for conservation and restoration.

Chair: Tony Miller, Centre for Middle Eastern Plants - part of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Paper presenter: Othman Llewellyn, National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia’s Revised Protected Area System
The revised Protected Area System Plan for Saudi Arabia, emphasizes incorporating indigenous / traditional conservation practices, collaborative management by local communities. It also uses international agreements such as the MAB and World Heritage programs, the CBD, Ramsar and Bonn Conventions and national programs as frameworks for protected area planning and management. It aims to conserve as much as possible of the Kingdom’s biological diversity and natural heritage in a relatively small number of protected areas, reducing the number of protected areas to 35 protected areas managed by NCWCD and a similar number to be managed by partner agencies. Hence it emphasizes clearly defined criteria and priorities. Ecological criteria for selecting and prioritizing protected areas include representation of the country’s terrestrial and marine biotopes, conservation of the country’s sites of outstanding biological diversity and productivity, and conservation of key plant and animal taxa. Socio-economic criteria include maintaining traditional and local conservation practices, enhancing rural development through sustainable use of natural resources, and providing opportunities for environmental education. The achievements of the current protected area system are assessed in light of these criteria, as well as the expected achievements, once the priority protected areas proposed for proclamation are protected, and the gaps that will still remain.

Paper presenter: Michelle Stevens, California State University at Sacramento, Cultural and ecological restoration of the al-Ahwar wetlands, Iraq
Authors: Dr. Michelle Stevens & Adil Yousef Al Handal
It has been a tragic and bittersweet year for the Hor al Haweizeh marsh, recommended as a Peace Park between Iran and Iraq. In October 2008, the Ramsar Convention Conference of the Parties announced that the Hawizeh Marsh was designated a Wetland of International Significance, and Iraq’s first Ramsar site. Simultaneously to the marshes being awarded international conservation status, Iran began diverting water from the Karkheh River. Even with the original rehydration of large marsh areas, much of the marsh ecosystem remained in poor condition, and less than 10% of the original marshes in Iraq remained as fully functioning wetlands. Now drought and water withdrawals are desiccating the marshes, and pollution of water, air, and land is extremely severe. The marshes are a culturalized landscape, formed over thousands of years by agricultural and traditional management. Over 500 Iraqi scientists and researchers have appealed to the Iraqi government, other governments in the Tigris-Euphrates watershed, and scientific organizations for help to ensure maintenance flows of water for the Iraqi Mesopotamian marshes. They ask for help to make the world aware of the tragedy of the losses in the marshes and to help apply pressure on adjacent riparian countries to allow bypass flows into the system.

Paper presenter: Diana Quiroz, University of Kassel, Assessing the constraints to environmental protection in South-East Arabia: a qualitative and quantitative analysis of agro-pastoral land use systems in the Hawf Protected Area, Yemen
The eco-geographical region comprising Dhofar in Oman and the Hawf Protected Area in Yemen has been described as a centre of plant diversity - a ''fog oasis'' in the predominantly arid Arabian Peninsula. The lack of data on agro-pastoral land use intensity in Hawf impedes policy makers from taking informed decisions about natural resource use in the area. In order to fill this gap, this study aimed at (i) providing a status quo analysis of the agricultural land use intensity of the area, (ii) examining the ecological and socio-economical appropriateness of a proposed nature reserve that excludes human access to the area, and (iii) developing feasible guidelines for an improved resource management in crop and animal husbandry practices for the area’s inhabitants. For these purposes, the use of multi-disciplinary research methods was necessary. Agricultural land use intensity, animal husbandry and vegetation cover and soil types were measured. Results demonstrated that where crop yields were influenced by climatic and geo-physical traits inherent to the area, manure use had a potential to improve land productivity and to contribute to the closing of nutrient cycles. Additionally, shifting cultivation is not a recurring problem as is the regeneration of abandoned land and deforestation caused by the absence of alternative livelihood opportunities for the pastoralist population. The establishment of any zoning plan could only succeed when spatio-temporal patterns of vegetation distribution and former land management practices are taken into account.