Conserving & Developing Egypt's Protected Areas

May 17th, 2016

From whale fossils to exotic birds, medicinal plants to mangroves, desert wadis to Nile islands, Egypt’s protectorates are home to a wealth of land and aquatic treasures. The country’s 30 protected areas cover more than 15 percent of its land mass and also extend into the Red Sea. They are under threat from pollution, urbanization, industry, and agriculture, among other factors. Often what makes these ecosystems special also makes them difficult to protect — many of them are vast and remote by nature, with limited resources and few rangers to patrol them.

Local communities play a vital role in preserving the biodiversity and cultural heritage of these areas. Ancestors of the Jabaleyya tribe in Sinai were brought from Macedonia in the 6th Century to build and protect Saint Katherine’s monastery. Now, seven different Bedouin tribes act as community guards and guides in the surrounding protectorate. The Ababda in Wadi el Gemal have a tribal prohibition on cutting live trees, which has allowed Acacias to flourish in the southern Red Sea area.

The 39th Cairo Climate Talks will explore ways we can conserve and sustainably develop these habitats to provide opportunities for education, tourism and local communities. Public and private sector experts will tackle conservation challenges including pollution, security issues, ranger resources and what is being done to make the protectorates financially sustainable and attract Egyptian tourists in light of declining international tourism.