When one thinks of Saudi Arabia, it might not seem like the type of country that is famous for its forests, but it does contain 2.7 million hectares of woodlands, particularly in its remote high-altitude areas. Under the Convention on Biological Diversity, Saudi Arabia has maintained 15 protected areas for biodiversity, covering almost 4% of the country’s area, which is significant, seeing that Saudi Arabia is by and large mostly arid. These areas are not confined to the terrestrial environment, but include marine areas as well, which seek to protect key animal and plant species. Saudi Arabia’s plan to develop and conserve biodiversity in the Kingdom includes conserving and developing woodlands, rangelands, marine resources, and agricultural biodiversity. The Juniper woodlands are one of the few dense forest areas that exist in the country, and host much of the country’s unique biomass. Both terrestrial and marine flora are at threat of degradation, due to uncontrolled cutting of trees and shrubs, accelerated urban development, periodic droughts for the terrestrial environment, and landfilling, dredging, and water pollution for the marine environment. Fauna is also threatened due to overhunting, loss of habitat, and water pollution. Less than 1% of carbon emissions in the country is due to agriculture, and less than 1% of the land is permanent cropland.
Activity Rating: **Standing Still
Saudi Arabia has small, but significant protected areas for biodiversity and the Kingdom is applauded for its efforts to protect its forests, marine areas, and agricultural biodiversity. However, the increasing effects of climate change on the protected terrestrial and marine ecosystems call for an expansion of protected areas and an increase in spending to alleviate human-induced activities such as uncontrolled cutting of trees and overhunting of rare and endangered animal species. One area that’s worth investing in is conducting periodic assessments of the Kingdom’s natural resources to better understand the threats to the degradation of wildlife populations and set up national management measures to mitigate harmful effects on the ecosystems.
We commend the Kingdom for maintaining 15 protected areas for biodiversity which cover almost 4% of the country’s area. We encourage the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture to adopt more biodiverse-focused policies. This is especially important now because both terrestrial and marine flora are under risk of depletion and degradation due to uncontrolled cutting of trees and shrubs, accelerated urban development, periodic droughts for the terrestrial environment, landfilling, dredging, and water pollution for the marine environment. We invite the Ministry to conduct periodic assessments of the wildlife to better understand the human activities, such as climate change, that threaten the wildlife populations.
Abdurrahman Abdul Mohsen Al-Fadli
Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture
Toll Free 800 247 2220