African wildlife expertise to help revitalise Middle Eastern nature reserves

 (Space for Giants)
(Space for Giants)

The Royal Commission for AlUla and the conservation organisation Space for Giants have signed an agreement to combine their areas of expertise in biodiversity conservation.

Over the next three years they will work together to ensure that the ranger force in five nature reserves have the equipment, capacity, systems and governance to protect community rights and ranger health and safety. They will develop communications and technology architecture to provide rangers with the tools to patrol and protect the reserves, while working on the management capacity and systems so that each achieves IUCN Green List certification by 2025.

The objective is to also calculate the potential for reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage capacity at the reserves and explore promoting a nature-based, sustainable ecotourism model. Dr Stephen Browne, the Royal Commission’s Wildlife and Natural Heritage expert, said there was already growing knowledge in the area about conservation, especially related to reviving Arabian Leopard numbers, and explained this would now help “to raise awareness among citizens and visitors about the conservation of biodiversity and heritage.”

The work will focus on five nature reserves – Sharaan, Al Gharameel, Wadi Nakhlah, Harrat Alzabin, and Harrat Uwayrid – that together cover a combined area of more than 12,500 sq km. Patrolling the reserves are 154 wildlife rangers.Space for Giants’ founder, Dr Max Graham, said skills honed in Africa would help as expertise spans “conservation landscapes, conservation science, human-wildlife coexistence and frontline protection for those working in national parks and conservation areas”.

He said: “We are very excited to now be able to deliver vital and long-lasting conservation benefits to the region.”