Throughout time humanity has used natural resources, both animals and inanimate, for its survival, consumption and enjoyment. Only recently has there been a reversal of traditional destructive consumption resulting from the gradual realization that natural resources are essential to the survival of humanity and that these should be cared for and protected in their own right.
The presence of humans the Sinai peninsula pre-dates biblical times, the area has seen massive conflicts and now the arrival of tourism. The later may in fact be the most damaging event the peninsula has been subjected to, given its continual impact on natural areas, its impact on local cultures and the gradual irreversible degradation of both marine and terrestrial habitats resulting form tourism related activities. In seeking to reverse a global trend that equates tourism development and tourism related activities to environmental degradation, the Government of Egypt has declared Protectorates and established management of a large portion of Southern Sinai. The primary objective of this policy is to ensue that the resource vase is protected and that both habitats and their biodiversity are preserved.
Damage to these natural treasures is due to actions that may appear to be perfectly normal but in fact can and do have serious consequences. For example, a swimmer, diver or snorkeller resting, standing or walking on a coral surface damages the fragile tissue surface of the coral animal. The coral is then open to bacterial attack and disease, and will often not recover from this impact. Photographers often damage large coral reef areas in the pursuit of a single image. They have been seen to break coral and rearrange the reef to improve the composition of the image. Such impacts will in time reduce the value of a coral reef, reduce its attractiveness and its ability to support the myriad life forms that would normally teem in this ecosystem.
Boats anchoring on reefs areas will destroy 4-6m2 of reef surface each time they drop an anchor. Multiple diving vessels on a given mooring increases the density of divers at that particular dive site. Increased diver intensity reduces the attractiveness of the site and results in increased damage to reef surfaces.
Vehicles driving on beaches will compact sand, destroying important burrowing invertebrate species. These animals are essential to normal beach processes in that they keep deeper sand layers oxygenated, as well as turning over and sifting sand. Compacted beaches have higher rates of erosion than non compacted beaches.
Vehicles driving off tracks in the desert damage fragile plant life, destroy seeds lying dormant in the sand pending sufficient moisture to trigger their eventual germination, displace rare wildlife such as the Dorcas Gazelle, the Nubian Ibex, Hyrax, numerous small mammals, birds such as the desert partridge, reptiles and others. Off track driving also destroys sand dunes and increases wind and water erosion of desert surfaces, particularly in restricted wadi beds which are subject to periodic flooding. All visitors must be aware that their actions may have an impact. Individual awareness makes a difference and reduces damage to the area.
Last Updated: June 14th, 2011
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