AMMAN — Saudi oil company ARAMCO has selected the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) to establish a nature reserve in Al Rub Al Khali (the Empty Quarter), the world’s largest sand desert, a conservationist said.
Over the next three years, a team of experts on biodiversity and nature protection from the RSCN will be supervising the establishment of the 635-square-kilometre nature reserve and its programmes in the Empty Quarter; the majority of which falls within Saudi Arabia.
The RSCN was selected due to its “vast experience” in the establishment and management of nature reserves as well as for carrying out specialised local, regional and international biodiversity studies, RSCN Director General Yehya Khaled said.
Established in 1966 as an independent nonprofit and mandated by the government in 1973 to regulate hunting and protect the Kingdom’s wildlife, the RSCN has opened 10 nature reserves across the country that are now economic hotspots and attractions for investments.
Setting up a nature reserve in the Empty Quarter seeks to protect wild fauna and flora, some of which are rare, endangered or indigenous to the area, Khaled noted.
“The RSCN is implementing and supervising projects for the rehabilitation of ecological systems that represent the beauty and uniqueness of the Empty Quarter, as well as projects to repopulate and increase the numbers of endangered species such as the Arabian Oryx, Rhim Gazelle and ostriches,” Khaled told The Jordan Times.
The RSCN has drafted plans for the management of the nature reserve and its activities, as well as for monitoring and awareness programmes, he said.
“The RSCN has gained a regional and international reputation in the field of nature protection that is coupled with sustainable development; therefore, we have opened the door to sharing our experience with the countries of the region,” Khaled underscored.
The Empty Quarter is a vast desert region in the southern Arabian Peninsula. It covers an area of about 650,000 square kilometres in a structural basin lying mainly in southeastern Saudi Arabia, with lesser portions in Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica
It is one of the driest regions in the world, with vast reserves of petroleum beneath its sands.
Source: Jordan Times