SAUDI ARABIA

Farasan Islands added to UNESCO Biosphere Reserve's World Network

September 15, 2021

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Farasan Islands has been added to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves as the UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program on Wednesday as part of 20 new sites, in 21 countries to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

UNESCO Biosphere Reserves now cover more than 5% of the Earth’s landmass, in which biodiversity conservation, environmental education, research and sustainable development are combined.

The archipelago of Farasan Islands in Saudi Arabia is a group of islands located at the southwest of the country.

The 820,000ha area combines marine and terrestrial habitats constituting a complex of important ecosystems in the South Red Sea.

The Farasan Islands feature rare and endemic species of both flora and fauna that contribute to making this first biosphere reserve in Saudi Arabia.

It is notably home to three of Saudi Arabia’s 13 recorded stands of the threatened red mangrove Rhizophora mucronate, as well as a relict population of Dugong dugon listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, the largest population of Idmi gazelle in the country and various species of seabirds (nesting pink-backed pelican, osprey, crab-plover), marine species (several dolphin species, whales, hawksbill sea turtles, corals and manta rays) and reptiles.

The remoteness of the islands has contributed to the preservation of many ancestral agricultural traditions. Local people still maintain built terraces and employ traditional irrigation systems.

Local communities also use traditional forms of small-scale, subsistence agriculture in areas where shallow wells are maintained and used to irrigate local plants varieties including cereals and vegetables.


September 15, 2021
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