1 Proceedings of the Regional Workshop on Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in the Arab Region lies Kerkennah, Tunisia, October 1998 Organized By UNESCO Cairo Office Co-Sponsored by:. ALECSO l ACSAD. UNEP. WAS Cairo 1999
2 Citation: Fahmy, Ahmed. Gamal-Eldin. (ed.) Proceedings of the Workshop on Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in the Arab Region. UNESCO Cairo Office, Egypt. Cover: Cover photograph taken in Bou-Hedma Biosphere Reserve, Tunisia, October 1999 by Dr. Akram Issa Dar-wish, Syria. Editor s Note: These Proceedings contain original material of many authors. No material to be reprinted without prior permission from UNESCO Cairo Office. UNESCO s Note The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations or that of its specialized agencies concerning the legal status of any country, territory, City or area, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers and boundries. The views and opinions in this report do not necessarily represent or reflect those of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, or any of their member states. Copies of this publication are available from the publisher: UNESCO Cairo Office, 8, Abdel Rahman Fahmy Street, Garden City, Cairo , Egypt. Fax: + (202)
3 Contents Part I: Current Status of Biosphere Reserves in the Arab Region Preface El-Kala Hiosphere Reserve, Algeria Sengui Rateeba Radon Biosphere Reserve, Sudan Abdel Azeem Awad Dafallah l>in&r Himphere Reserve, Sudan Kamel Ibrahim Abdel-Rahim lhe Onzayed Biosphere Reserve, I: gypt Samir I. Ghabour ~Mwl C:hamhi Biosphere Reserve, Tunisia El-Mizzoni Naddari Zmhra and Zmhretta Moustafa Karbeya Biosphere Reserve 19 Ichkul Biosphere Reserve, Tunisia El-Habib Ghazouani Argan Protected area, Morocco Idriss El-Fassi El-Rakka Biosphere Reserve, Syria Akram Issa Darwish Status of Biosphere Reserves in the Arab C. ountries Abdin Salih and Boshra Salem
4 Part II: Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Management Of Natural Resources The ~lon.~ervation c?f Biokogical Diversity through Protected Area Planning anu Management, the Saudi Arabian Experience Hany M.A. Tatwany 25 Linkages Between the MAB Workd Network Of Biosphere Reserves And 7 he C onvention On Biological Diversity Peter B. Bridgewater 34 Re.s-earth, monitoring and training in 7he Biosphere Reserves Mohamed Abdel-Gawad Ayyad 41 Mechanims cooperation and collaboration between Bio.vphere Reserves (national and regional networks) Boshra B. Salem 58 Scopes cjf iniegratedpest management on hidiversity conservation Khaled Alroueochdi 73 Biosphere reserves and conservation of agro-hidiversity in semi-arid and arid regions c?f Arab countr7e.v. J. Valkoun, A. Belaid and K. Chabane 74 l: uwironnlcr~tal Challenges and l~i~rest Rescrvcs in West Asia Mohammad S. Abido 80
5 Preface Biosphere Reserves serve to combine three main functions, namely: conservation, development and logistics as well as the implementation of international conventions, (e.g. Conservation of Biodiversity and Combating Desertification). The definition, criteria, objectives, procedures and renewal of biosphere reserves are presented in the Strategy Framework for the World Network of Biosphere Reserves adopted by the UNESCO General Conference in These objectives serve to fulfil1 the Articles of the Strategy Framework of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves and the Seville Strategy. Through the MAB programme UNESCO Cairo Office organized a regional workshop on ArabMAB Network of Biosphere Reserves held in Syria in December This workshop was followed up in 1997 by a Regional Symposium on Biodiversity combined with the 3 d Regional Meeting of the ArabMAB Network held in Jordan. Both meetings strongly recommended that many research programmes and training activities should be implemented within the framework of UNESCO s Biosphere Reserves. It was agreed that this task should be done in close collaboration with relevant regional and international organizations. Since 197 1, when the MAB programme was launched and until now, the number of Arab Biosphere Reserves has not exceeded thirteen in six Arab countries (Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan). It is rewarding, however, that both the Arab MAB National Committees and UNESCO Cairo Office have recognized this deficiency and agreed to work together for increasing the number of these reserves, through the actions of the ArabMAB network. In line with the above recommendation, a regional workshop on & Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources and the Implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in the Arab Region, was held in Iles Kerkennah, Tunisia, (26-30 October 1998 ), The workshop was organized by UNESCO Cairo Office, hosted by the Tunisian MAB Committee and the Tunisian Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, and co-sponsored by ALECSO, ACSAD, UNEP and TWAS. In attendance were 30 participants representing eight Arab Countries with declared biosphere reserves, or biosphere reserves under establishment, four resource persons from the region as well as representatives of the sponsoring organizations. The present document depicts the proceedings of that workshop. The final report of the workshop is a necessary supplement to this document, and includes: a-list of names and co-ordinates of all attendees, the opening addresses, agenda of the workshop, summary of the technical presentations, as well as the major recommendations presented.
6 The papers presented in this document are divided into two topics that represent the main components of the workshop: l Current Status of Biosphere Reserves in the Arab Region 0 Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources UNESCO Cairo Office hopes that these papers shall provide an excellent reference and database to sustainable management of natural resources and implementation of the Biodiversity Convention in the Arab Region. UNESCO Cairo Offtce would also like to extend special appreciation and thanks to the co-sponsors, namely: ALECSO, ACSAD, UNEP and TWAS for their contribution to the success of the workshop as well as their continued partnership with UCO. Moreover, gratitude and thanks are extended to the host country, the participants of the workshop and the contributors to the document. This document has been compiled and edited by Dr. Ahmed Gamal-Eldin Fahmy ( Botany Dept., Faculty of Science, Helwan University, Cairo), who accomplished this task with great patience and the dedication of a true scientist. UNESCO Cairo Office
7 Par-t I : Current Status of Biosphere Reserves in the Arab Region
8 El-Kala Biosphere Reserve, Algeria Sengui Ra tee ba Algerian National Cottunission for the Conscrwtion of Nature Abstract El-Kala Biosphere Reserve was established in 1990, covering an area of 80,000 ha. The park was established to protect unique wetland complexes and their associated fauna, hydrology and historic monuments, along with the traditional landscapes and lifestyles of the region. It is considered to be one of the important wetlands in the Mediterranean region. The wetland forms a unique habitat for about 55 species of migrating birds, and its humid zones are of international importance for threatened breeding birds. as well as wintering and resting Palaearctic migratory species. Many factors negatively affect this site: l The inhabitants are not acquainted with the significance of conserving threatened wild plants and animals l Uncontrolled development disturbs the ecosystems of the region, l Activities to increase environmental public awareness are very weak. The following suggestions could help to improve the biosphere reserve at El-Kala: l Establishment of a database on the flora and fauna of the region l Preparation of detailed maps, including: regions of ecological significance, information centres, orographic centres, distribution of important plants and animals in the region. l Application of remote sensiny technology. l Involvement of the inhabitants in managing the protected area.
9 Radom Biosphere Reserve, Sudan Abdel Aseem A wad Dafallah Administration of Wildlife Protection - Sudan Abstract This paper aims to give an oveniew of Radom Federal Park: its objectives, environmental problems, and proposed solutions. Radom Federal Park was established for the conservation of bioddiversity and protection of water resources as well as to stop the desertification process, and for economic development of the area. It also aims to be an environmental education and scientific research center in addition to a recreational and touristic site. The park lies in the rich Savannah region with an area of 1,600 sq. kms ofwhich 45% is forest. 46 7% mixed forest and grassland, and 8.2% The fauna of the park consists of large and diverse numbers of big and small mammals as well as birds and reptiles. The park is faced by many problems which include unorganized human settlement and destructive agricultural activities in and around the park. In addition to that, overgrazing and poaching activities do not enable the park to play its role and meet its objectives. The paper proposes the necessity permit of conducting studies and research on fauna1 and floral aspects as well as indicating the core and transitional areas and allocating the buffer zone boundries. It also proposes conservation programs which should include local residents and improvement of their social lives through provision services so that the park may be a biosphere reserve matching modern conceptions of conservation. For the execution of the proposals included in this paper, monetary and technical support are vital, 3
10 Dinder Biosphere Reserve, Sudan Kamil /brahim Abdel-Rahim Ad;hstnltion of Wildlife Protection - Sudan Abstract This paper outlines the features of Dinder Federal Park, citing the references that make use of the information available with the Wildlife Conservation Administration and through direct observation. It was possible of the park to be compared with other protected areas in Africa, its biogeographical location, as situated in the Ethiopian resion, and technical information on the park are also presented, including biological characteristics and floral, and fauna1 information.development issues, like land-use practices, are described while, human population settlement and traditional methods of living are identitied. The paper gives an account of the UNDP Development Project in the park; the project in which GEF has been named as a mechanism of implementation. Problems hampering development of Dinder Federal Park are named, ini!uding:: poaching, trespassing livestock, gum arabic collection, dom palm cutting, collection of honey. posession of unlicensed firearms, urbanization and human settlements, lack of adminstrative and technical resources and the strained financial position of the park management authority, as well as the reluctance of GEF to implement the UNDP project for the park s development. For the purpose of introduction and improvement (maintenance) of the park s condition. the contents of this paper will be sufficient for utilization. To be noted here is that this paper provides an introductory statement about the Sudan, the country u.hich hosts Dinder Federal Park the oldest biosphere reserve in the Sudan, Solutions to the park s problems are suggested, including relevant solutions to individual problems and a suggestion to re-activate GEF.
11 The Omayed Biosphere Reserve, Egypt Samir I. Ghabour Instilulc OC African Studies. Uni\.crsit!, of Cairo and Tllc Anvx~can Uniwrsit! in Cairo Abstract The Omayed Biosphere Reser\,e (OBR) was the first Biosphere Reserve to be declared in Egypt, in I98 1, two years before the Egyptian Parliament promulgated a special law (Law 102/1983) for the establishment of nature reserves At present, it fulfills the three tinctions of Biosphere Reserves, as such: ( I ) Conservation. The area includes samples of landscapes, ecosystems, species, and genetic variations representative of the Western Mediterranean coastal region of Egypt. It is, to date, the only protected area in this region that is sewing the purposes of conserving these biodiversity components. where human activities threaten to obliterate them. (2) Development. The area is an ideal site for demonstration of sustainable development of the range resources in the region by the rational management and organization of grazing activities to minimize grazing pressure and to make it compatible with the carrying capacity of the ecosystems Trials, in which local inhabitants are participating. are already underway for the propagation of the deteriorating multi-purpose plant species. Moreover, there is ample opportunity to establish demonstration experiments for the rational and non-wastehl use of irrigation water from the Nile, which will soon reach the area (3) Logistic support. The area supports demonstration projects of propagation of multi-purpose species of shrubs and trees It is also an ideal site for: (a) education in disciplines related to desert ecology and development for undergraduate students of Egyptian uniirersities and other institutions. (b) for training of managers of biosphere resen es in Egypt and other Arab and African countries, and, (c) for continued research on ecosystem analysis (since 1974) as ntell as for international cooperation in monitoring environmental change (e g., ROSELT and the EL -CAMELEO projects). Although the OBR represents a large number of ecological systems while belonging to only one biogeographic region, it includes a remarkable gradation of human intervention, sometimes intergrading into a mosaic of tiny fragmented land use types This is due to its \,aried topography, which has imposed on both older inhabitants and new government planners a mosaic consistent with the exigencies of the emironmental resources (including biodiversity resources) available in the area. It is. thus, of great significance for the conservation of the biological diversity of the entire 550 km long coastal strip from Alexandria to Salloum, where land is now coveted for building near the coast, and agriculture inland Given that this dry coastal strip extends to Sfas in Tunisia. the OBR is the only site that provides such great opportunities to explore and demonstrate approaches to sustainable development on a 5
12 regional scale. Its size is just appropriate to serve the three functions of biosphere reserves, provided of course that no parts of it will be forcibly taken away from it by some agencies for other mundane purposes The OBR now has legally constituted core areas devoted to long term protection of its resources, according to the conservation objectives of the biosphere reserve, and its size is just sufficient to meet these objectives. The buffer zone at present is clearly identified and it surrounds the core areas. In it, only activities that are compatible with the conservation objectives can take place. On the other hand, the transition area, where only sustainable resource management practices should be promoted and developed, and are carried out, suffers from unavoidable encroachment by modern agricultural schemes, based on the near future availability of irrigation water from the Nile. Substantial organizational arrangements are provided for the involvement and participation of a wide range of end-users. No effort has been spared to involve public authorities, local communities, and private interests in the design and carrying out of the functions of the OBR. The OBR has put mechanisms in place to manage and demonstrate the value of environmentally friendly human utilization and activity, in the buffer zone. It has a management plan for the whole area to be promoted as a biosphere reserve useful in a variety of ways for all stakeholders in the neighbourhood around it, as well as programmes for continuing research, monitoring, education, and training, on a long term basis It also has a designated local authority established in the area to implement the said policy DESCRIPTION Geoq-aphical Aspects: The OBR is bounded by longitudes and N and by latitudes 39O 0 and E. The coordinates of the central point are: longitude N and latitude 29 9 E. Its total size is 70,000 ha (see Figs. I-3). It lies within the Warm Deserts and Semi-deserts biogeographic region, and particularly within the.4ccentuated Arid Mediterranean Zone The two core areas occupy 800 ha of the total area of the Reserve, while the buffer zone occupies ha. The rationale of this zonation is brietly, as follows: one of the core areas has been completely protected since 1974 (core area 1 ), and the other since 1990 (core area 2). In the buffer zone, delimited and guarded since 1996, traditional fig plantations and annual rain-fed cropping of wheat and barley were practiced a long time ago and are now under control. In the transition zone. settlements, ecotourism, and recreation are allowed under control, but nowadays there is an alarming, but inevitable, encroachment by the powerful agricultural authorities to use parts of this zone for agriculture, based on the not too distant arrival of Nile waters through a large canal dug right in the middle of the OBR. The OBR administration has reached an agreement with the Ministry of Water Resources, responsible for managing the canal, to separate its course from the surrounding dry land by a high fence in order to prevent destruction of the vegetation or interference with the scientific experiments carried out on this land. 6
13 From I974 until 1990, there was only one core area (known now as core area l), which was mainly devoted to ecological field research. The addition of a larger core area (known as core area 2) provides the possibility for biodiversity conservation by further protection of its resources, and by putting them in the service of the local community The further extension of the buffer zone will also add to the possibilities of more significant research and monitoring logistics, as well as the possibility of carrying out experiments oriented towards sustainable development. Thus the three stages of scientific research, ranging from the ecological to environmental protection, to sustainable development, are guaranteed. The extension of the transition area; which now includes a considerable variety of land use types, will provide greater scope for cooperation between the OBR authorities and stakeholders in the region. with the objective of providing guidance for rational land use planning and utilization of resources, The main forms of land use are: grazing, wood cutting for fuel, rain-fed agriculture of tree crops (figs and olives) and field crops (barley and wheat as grain crops, and vegetables), quarrying, housing, roads, and a series of lush resort villages on the coast and on the shores of Lake Mariut. In the not so distant titure irrigated agriculture will be introduced on a large scale south of Lake Mariut. The human population of the OBR is neither too small nor too large. The two core areas are not inhabited, but the buffer zone harbours 500 to 600 people, while the transition area harbours 5000 to 7000 people, according to season. The nearest towns are El-Hammam to the east and the famous World War II town of El-Alamein to the uest, each about 20 km away. The inhabitants of the buffer zone are all autochthonous, but the inhabitants of the transition area and the two neighbouring towns include government employees, merchants, professionals, and summer vacationers from Alexandria and Cairo. Phvsical Characteristics: The topography is in the form of a regular pattern of longitudinal calcareous rocky ridges parallel to the coast alternating with depressions. The relief is characterized by these successive undulations. Ridges nearer to the coast are more recent, of lower elevation, and less consolidated than those inland. These main features of the physiographic units lead to a distinction of three major physiographic systems: (1) the coastal dune system, (2) the ridges and depressions system, and (3) the inland plateau system. The depression between the second and third ridges is shallow and is filled by an extension of the water of Lake Mariut, which was a freshwater lake until the British connected it to the Sea to counter Napoleon s fleet in Alexandria, thus creating a salt marsh in this depression. The highest elevation above sea level of the fourth ridge (the Khashm El-Eish Ridge) is 85 m. An automatic meteorological station was established this year (1998) at the OBR, but records have been taken regularly (manually) since There are other records obtained from the Burg El-Arab meteorological station, some 30 km to the east, in a similar topographic situation. 7
14 The average temperature of the warmest month (August) is 30.8 C, while the average temperature of the coldest month (January) is 7.9 C. The mean annual precipitation is 120 mm/year, recorded at an elevation of 10 m. The climate of the OBR site belongs to the sub-desertic warm temperate climate, according to the UNESCO classification, Its rainfall regime is in winter. The rainy season begins in late October and extends to early May, but about three quarters of the total rain amount usually falls in December and January, or sometimes from November to February, Spring (March to May) is usually dry and receives only about 10% of the total rainfall. The geological formations of the OBR region are essentially Quaternary and Tertiary rocks. The sub-surface is formed of Miocene strata, about 300 m in thickness, overlain by pink limestone, tentatively assigned to Pliocene. The Pleistocene formation is made up of white limestone in the exposed ridges stretching parallel to the coast, and pink limestone of oolitic sand with Pleistocene microfauna. The Holocene formation is composed of beach deposits, sand dune accumulations, wadi fillings, loamy deposits, lagoonal deposits, and limestone crust. Three categories of soils may be distinguished: excessively calcareous soils with more than 60% carbonates, very calcareous soils with 20-60% carbonates, and calcareous soils with less than 20% carbonates, but containing not less than 2-3% carbonate. The soils are classified as follows: ( 1) Raw mineral soils. These are formed of more or less weathered rock at the surface and the differentiation of horizons is very limited. They are poor in organic matter. (2) Slightly evolved soils. These are of two types: (a) Modal gray sub-desertic soils. These already exhibit some slight dit ferentiation into horizons, mostly demonstrated through their physical properties and by the relative distribution of saline elements through their profile. (b) Gray sub-desertic soils. These are analogous to the previous ones, but their salts and gypsum contents are higher, though not excessive. The solute salts are accumulated at the surface, but their higher concentrations are in the deeper layers, from where they come. The gypsum accumulation at a medium depth (ca. 50 cm) leads to the formation of an impervious layer that cannot be penetrated by plant roots (caliche). (3) Xeric carbonated calcimagnesic soils. These exhibit a type of evolution strongly dominated by high calcium and magnesium contents. In the OBR area, they are calcareous at the surface. They contain a strong lime accumulation at deeper layers ( 1.s-2 m) in the form of nodules, encrustations, and even calcite or slab. They are not so poor in organic matter compared to the previous ones, and their structure is aiso more stable. (4) Salsodic soils. These have a high content of soluble soils. Some retain a stable structure, while others do not, at least in a great part of their profile, where their * structure becomes diffuse through the effect of sodium. 8
15 Historv of Human Occupation: The Mediterranean coastal region of Egypt has been settled since the Mesolithic, in turn by the Tehenus (the contemporaries of the Pharaonic Dynasties), the Greeks, and the Romans, and the Byzantines. During a millenium of Greek settlement, the Mediterranean strip from Egypt to Algeria was Rome s granary and a source of excellent wine, due to the elaborate water-harvesting techniques these settlers used (artificial ridges cisterns). The Persians came twice, briefly but destructively, once before Alexander the Great, and a second time in the 7th century.4.d. Afterwards, the Berbers and the Arabs came and replaced the older populations. Finally, the modern Egyptians started to settle from the 19th century onwards. In the early Neolithic it is possible that the Mediterranean strip served as a corridor for domesticated sheep and goats from Palestine to the Atlas Mountains, although no material evidence has been found to prove it. With the Arab conquest in the 7th century A.D., the population was greatly Arabized, with the removal of vineyards established by the Greeks, to be replaced by a grazing land use pattern. At any rate, the name Khashm El-Eish, given to the Fourth Ridge. means door of grain, and indicates a certain successful and extensive continued history of grain cultivation in olden days. The transformation from cultivation to herding was finally achieved by the 10th century with the sweeping and destructive passage of the warring Beni Helal and Beni Suleim Arab tribes driven away from Egypt by the Fatimids The dominant Bedouin tribes now are the Awlad Ali Saadi (sons of Ali Saadi) tribe, the majority of whom live in Cyrenaica, from where the Egyptian Saadi came, apparently in the 17th or 18th century. There are two major branches of the Awlad Ah: the Awlad Ali El- Ahmar (the red) and Awlad Ali El-Abyad ( the white). It seems these names refer to the mode of life of these two branches: that the first group lives inland on the term rossa soils of Cyrenaica, while the latter lives on the coast with its white limestone soils. There are other tribes which do not belong to Awlad Ali, but to a number of different smaller tribes, like the Hanadis, nearer to the Nile Delta, who apparently were there before the Awlad Ali came. Other tribesmen are collectively known as the Morabtin. They are described as fragmented and weak. and protected by t:?e Saadis, but have some aura of religious respect among their protectors. They serve as spiritual guides and judges in disputes. They are attached as individuals or in small groups to local groups of Saadis, as clients, or they may live with economic independence in their own tribal groupings between or beyond the areas occupied by the Saadis. The more favourable land of the coastal strip is occupied for the most part by the Saadis, while the less productive lands of the interior are inhabited by the Morabtin. At present, the government is pushing both groups further inland, to make way for the resort villages and irrigated agriculture The tribal affiliations of the group within and around the OBR are the Awlad Kharouf and Jumaiat branches of Awlad Ali. Their main occupation is pastoralism, dry farmin g, and some trade (mainly sale of livestock and the fig crop). Eventually this group will find itself cut off from its relatives and become an ethnic island engulfed by government schemes and their employees. Biological Characteristics: Five natural habitat types are recognized at Omayed, from the sea towards inland: (1) coastal calcareous dunes (the First Ridge), (2) inland ridges with skeletal shallow soils 9
16 (the other three ridges), (3) saline marshy depressions (between the second and third ridges. an extension of the Mariut Lake), (4) non-saline depressions (between the ridges, except the former two), and (5) the inland plateau. The first type of habitat extends all along the Mediterranean coast and is therefore of regional distribution. Its characteristic vegetation species are: Amnwphikr arrr~aria, ~~~~~IIILJIUCW hirwttr, ( rucia~reiltr mcrritima, 0trotri.s \vrgirdi.s, Pancratium maritimum, and l:c~/u~~op.s.sj~irlosi.s.sima, among others. The important natural processes here are sand movement and wind erosion, as well as percolation of rain water into deeper layers. The main traditional use is grazing, fig cultivation (adsi variety) and the catching of quail in autumn, but most of the strip has been transformed into lush resort villages for holiday makers from Alexandria and Cairo. The second habitat of inland ridges is of a rather local distribution, mostly restricted to the section between Alexandria and El-Alamein. They have shallow skeletal soils dominated by 7hymu.s capitatus, (2ohuiarltr arahica, and L1actyli.s glomerata in rocky sites, 7f~~wwiaecl hirsuta and ~~yntrroctups dtwrrdrum in spots of accumuiated soils in between rocks, and Yltrrrttr~~ trlhicwts together u.it h Asphcdelrrs microcarps in deeper soils. The important natural processes here are active wind and water erosion (gully formation). The main human impacts are settlement (they provide excellent observation opportunities), burials, quarrying for pure u,hite limestone, completely removing the ridges to ground level, commerce, practiced by the local population, as bell as some poor grazing. The relevant management practices should be housing, ecosystem rehabilitation, where needed, and medicinal plants. The third type of habitat is the saline depression which is of obvious regional distribution all along the Mediterranean coast (sebkhas) Its halophytic vegetation consists mainly of plant communities dominated by?;(dxort/io ji~ut~co.su, ~ re.s.ra crcticu, A triplex halimrrs,.jiiiil IIS rigdos, ArthrouwmotI gluium~, and Limonirrm CY~/I~O&.S in sites of a shallow water table. Suatdu morwica, Zygoph~~fhrm album, I,ln?or,lcr.stl rlnl,?lorro~j~ettrllrm, Arlwopr.s fagqwides, Sdsola tetrandra, and E rankwia mdnta dominate sites with a deep water table. The main natural activity is sand deposition from the nearby ridges. Dry farming, irrigated farming, and grazing are scarcely practiced, while housing and wood cutting are more evident. The relevant management practice here should rely on range management, medicinal plants, and limited housing (because of the high soil salinity) The fourth habitat type is also of regional distribution and has the following vegetation communities. communities dominated bv Arrtrhasis articulata and &wphl~llrlm alhrm on sandy soils with low calcium carbonate content, and A.~phocl~~lr~.s micwcarps and 7 hymelaea hir.wtu on fine textured soils (from deposition of erosion particles). Sand deposition is the main natural process here. Dry farming, irrigated farming (soon), grazing, settlements, and wood cutting are the mam activities here because of a relatively wide expanse and good deep soils, together with run-off from the neighbouring ridges. But grazing is the most important occupation here, and hence range management and improved dry farming should be the rele\fant management practice. 10
17 Finally. the fifth habitat type is the inland plateau, which extends from about 10 km inland to the inwards frontal plain, and is certainly of regional distribution, Its vegetation includes communities dominated by Artemisia morrosjwrma and Hammadu e1qpu.s in less calcareous sites, by Anaha.sis articulata and Hammada scoj>aria in sites with shallow degraded soils, and by Slraeda jwuirwstr and Salsola tetrardra in more saline soils. The important natural processes here is strong wind and water erosion, while the main human activities are grazing, dry farming, limited housing, and a dispersed quarrying by large corporations. Because of the flatness of the ground, it is criss-crossed by roads going into all directions, including the new International Highway which links Egypt to Libya. Surveys have shown that all in all, more than 120 species of higher plants, 20 species of nitrogen-fixing blue-green algae, and a similar number of soil fungi, occur at the OBR. The following is a faunistic list of the more important species found in all five habitats: Mammals include the dorcas gazelle ((&e//a tiorcas), the Eastern Mediterranean endemic mole-rat (,\j,altrx lt- ocou ~~, endangered), a number of gerbils ((;rrhillr~.s spp. ), the fennec (fi entrecrls zuw a), the red fox (lir1jw.v vrrlj~s), hare (I.i~prr.s cujwrl.si.s), and the North African, endemic and threatened, fat sand rat (l.wwnon~y.~ oht~s~ls). There are about 70 bird species recorded, including the kestrel (~~CYI timmrrcrllrrs), quail (( otwnix cotruwix), and about 13 species of reptiles and amphibians, including the horned viper (C erastr.s cerastes), as well as the tortoise ( 7 ci.slrllh $yul L Ll). There are more than 500 species of above ground and more than 100 species of below ground insects. Common insects are represented by the families tenebrionidae, scarabaeidae, and carabidae, among coleoptera, and formicidae (the harvester ants ~V~.S.SW spp.), as well as the dictyopteran polyphagidae (the sand roach, Hcterogwniu.s~*riaca). Several species of scorpions exist there.4 mollusc; the snail b2wvitrtr d~~srrtorwm. is quite abundant in the OBR Its broken dead shells are so thoroughly mixed with the soil particles that these have been termed snail soils. Rotifers and free living Nematoda abound in the soils of the OBR. A local species of the potentially pathogenic Acanthamorha is also present, together with many soil testacea. The Conservation Function: The OBR contributes to the conservation of landscape and ecosystem biodiversity by strictly protectin g the vegetation cover and the fauna of the habitats of the core areas (the non-saline depressions, the rocky ridges, and the inland plateau). It protects the high species richness and tries to propagate the endangered and threatened plant species in these habitats, particularly the following species: A~~gi:l(doj~h~l~~ pmila, 4 jrrgu iw, Atlchrwr CIZIIIWI, ( ulchic*um ritchii, C c~tnwlv~~lz~s trlthtr~ odc.s, ji;l>hdra alata, j+phorhia grarmluttr. Ijmt~ic~~ serriola, l~ohdaria mtrritimtr, Mo1tkioj~si.s ciliata, Par~cratirrm.sickerdwr~erI. t aropchia argentlra, t hlomis f;iocw.sa, j ojygoimm maritinw7~, Prasilrm nwjus. I ircurria j>yramidata, and I.JLG~I shtrwii. 11
18 The economic value of plants of the OBR and its vicinity is given here: (1) Medical importance. For abscesses, four species, as febrifuges, eight species, for haermorrhagic and similar cases, 12 species, for blood sugar, four species, for blood pressure, four species, as vulnerary, 10 species, for bronchitis, three species, as expectorants, five species, for pectoral cases, four species, for pulmonary cases, four species, as sedatives, five species, for sinusitis, two species, as emetics/anti-emetics, four species, for jaundice, seven species, as laxatives etc., seven species, for liver diseases, five species, as anti-poisons, eight species, for stomachache, 11 species, as vermifuges, eight species, as aphrodisiacs, four species, as diuretics, 22 species, for kidney and urinary troubles, four species, for metritis, three species, for spermatogenesis, three species, as astringents, 12 species, as cataplasms, six species, for itch, three species, for oedema, seven species, for rheumatism, nine species, for spasms, sex species, and as sudorifics, four species. (2) As human food, four species, for fuel wood. 16 species, as sources of dyes, oils, and for soap making, 12 species, for making ropes, three species, and as plants for aesthetic value, eight species. (3) Grazing plants of high value include 27 species, of medium value, seven species, and of value for camels, nine species. Many plant species serve more than just one economic purpose. Development function: The OBR, together with its surroundings, is an ideal potential site for fostering human and natural resources development that is both socio-culturally and ecologically sustainable. By rationalizing eco-tourism, rangeland management, rain-fed and irrigated agriculture, into a comprehensive development strategy, conflicts in land use can be resolved. Among the early projects that were implemented and that are meeting popular approval are the propagation of multi-purpose woody species, and the promotion of local industries based on local products. Tourism at present is oriented towards the sea and not towards natural history and traditional lifestyles is not yet well known in the area, but preparations are under way to make the OBR a focus for such a type. It is expected that with the spreading of nearby resort villages, and with the completion of the International Highway that runs just south of the OBR, natural and cultural heritage attractions will have a greater value in promoting tourism and adding value to it. Such features as nature watching (spring flowers in the desert, bird watching, other wildlife), ancient devices of rain lvater harvesting, the ruins of the citadel built by the Mameluk Sultan Al-Zaher Beibars in the 1 ith century on top of the Khashm El-Eish Ridge, etc., can serve in enhancing the touristic industry, as well as integrate the OBR in the economic system of the region, as they will offer ample opportunity for study of flora and fauna, recreation, and camping. The new building of the OBR-HQ now has good accommodation facilities. Moreover, the Reserve can offer, on its transition zone near the beach, opportunities for sea-side recreation. Paved roads make it easy to reach anywhere in its perimeter without trouble, and its research station and the nascent natural history museum allow study of preserved specimens of the local flora and fauna. However, considerable negative impacts of tourism are unfortunately felt at present in the coastal area due to habitat destruction as a result of the large scale 12
19 construction of recreational and resort villages, while quarrying of limestone from the ridges and levelling them to the ground, to obtain building stone, forever destroys these ridges, which protect the inland areas from salt spray from the sea. The introduction of alien ornamental species for the embellishment of gardens poses a threat to the local flora. The large scale use of insecticides to get rid of mosquitoes threatens the local fauna also. On the positive side, the interest of some sections of tourists in the study and admiration of the natural and cultural heritage, with the help of the OBR, which is not substantiated yet, but which may grow in the future, may help in maintaining the OBR as an economically feasible project, and help it in fulfilling its conservation and sustainable development goals. Regarding the local people, some have greatly benefited from tourism development on the coast, while others have suffered. Those living near the sea coast, who used to rely more on commerce than on grazing, and who have lost their fig plantations, have benefited from selling land and quarrying ridges. On balance, they are better off than before. Those who live more inland, and who rely more on pastoralism, are feeling the pressure of overgrazing and drought, as well as the loss of their traditionally owned lands to government irrigation schemes. This makes them more aware of environmental issues, nature conservation, and sustainable development, but of course in terms related to their own problems. They cooperate with the Reserve in incomegenerating activities and solicit the help of its authorities in their disputes with the local administrative authorities. They are also more directly involved in the affairs of the Reserve by working for it as guards for the core areas and the buffer zone, as labourers in the research station, and by serving in the summer resorts. Logistic Support Function: The Mediterranean north-west coast of Egypt (the Mariut region) has been a favourite place for Egyptian researchers in botany and zoology for more than 60 years. When the Omayed site was chosen in 1973 as the site for more intensive research at the level of studying the structure and function of its ecosystems, there was, already available, a wealth of information on the flora and fauna of the region as a whole. But the ensuing research work under the SAMDENE ( ) and REMDEX ( ) projects, on the ecosystem ecology of the site, provided the basis for the zonation of the planned biosphere reserve that was eventually declared by UNESCO in Especially with regard to the core areas, which were previously sites of intensive field studies and research, almost no stone (or sand grain), has not been overturned by soil scientists, botanists, and/or zoologists. At present, continued long-term research and monitoring are planned as an independent activity, as well as the propagation of multi-purpose woody species (particularly the endangered native ones), and for evaluating the long-term impact of development activities in the region, on the species and ecosystems. The past research and monitoring studies within the framework of the SAMDENE and REMDENE projects on the abiotic components of the ecosystem included intensive studies on hydrology, climatology, geomorphology, and soils, while later studies un der the aegis of the IGBP/GCTE and ROSEyLT/OSS focussed on: monitoring the impact of climate change on ecosystem structure and function, including the 13
20 productivity of rangelands and orchards. On the other hand, research on the biotic components included: - Ecological assessment of natural resources using aerial photographs to establish a variety of maps (in cooperation with the CNRS, ORSTOM - France, and Imperial College - UK), - Forage composition, consumption rate, and its nutritive value (UNESCO-MAB), -Rehabilitation and restoration of degraded ecosystems, by the propagation of endangered woody plant species, and introduction of especially valuable or multipurpose species such as forage, fuel-wood, fencing, N-fixers, etc. (UNESCO-MAB, Ford Foundation), - Environmental site characterization by soil fauna to identify relations between species of soil fauna and environmental parameters in both natural and managed ecosystems (IARS - Cairo Univ. and IBM Cairo Sci. Center), - Crop production levels and land use planning for desert agro-ecosystems R-D/R-A planning (CAB0 - the Netherlands), - Models for crop production potential, water limited,.rutrient limited in the NW coastal desert of Egypt (ditto), - Species richness and biodiversity of both the vegetation and soil fauna, - Temporal environmental changes detected by remote sensing (UNESCO-MAB), - Land use/land cover by thematic mapping (EEPE/ORSTOM, Imperial College), - Suitability map and major land use types using GIS (SOAS and Imperial College). The socio-economic research focussed on demography, economics, and traditional knowledge, especially as regards awareness about soil, water use and availability, and grazing issues. It extended to the study of conflicts arising in water requirements between government sponsored irrigated agriculture in the region and the need for maintaining a certain high water level for allowing navigation in the Nubariya Canal, which feeds the Bahig Canal bringing water to the region. It also included the investigation of ecological and socio-economic aspects of wood cutting for fuel and its relation to grazing potential (Ford Foundation). On-going research is primarily a continuation of earlier climatological, hydrological, and gee-morphological investigations. The focus is on keeping and updating meteorological records, and studying the transformations in physical and chemical soil properties. As to the biotic components, biodiversity studies continue to monitor changes in species composition. The classification of the current land use/land cover, as well as detecting its changes by remote sensing, also continues. Socio-economic studies include the analysis of the socio-economic status of the local inhabitants as it is affected by external modifiers of the human environment, as well as the analysis, recording, and appraisal of their traditional knowledge Planned research and monitoring activities for the near future include monitoring climatic change for abiotic components, construction of an environmental information system for the Reserve, based on remote sensing and GIS, databases for the flora and fauna, and linking the OBR to a national network of biosphere reserves (and eventuallv other nature reserves in Egypt), and a further Arab network. A website for the OBR has recently been created and is now functioning. Planned socio-economic research includes the role of women in the Bedouin community. This aspect was not 14
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