Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area
The Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area, located 35km north of Sharm el Sheikh, is an outstanding natural area containing varied ecosystems and habitat types. Of these, the most notable are the dunes located at the mouth of Wadi Kid and the largest mangrove (Avicennia marina) stand on the Gulf of Aqaba.
Other habitat types can be found in the mountainous regions of the Protectorate wherever conditions permit plant growth. With an area of over 600 kilometers squared, Nabq contains 134 plant species of which 86 are perennial. All desert areas are therefore fragile and off track driving is prohibited.
The mangrove stand at Nabq fronts the shoreline at the mouth of Wadi Kid. The location and density of trees suggests that there is infiltration of fresh water, reducing the salinity to levels tolerated by the species. Mangroves have adapted to their saline environment. Their root systems, seen as leafless branches sprouting from the ground around each tree, act as a barrier, keeping out most of the salts from the seawater. The water with its dissolved nutrients then nourishes the tree. Salt not removed by the roots is exuded by the leaves and seen as salt crystals on the underside of each leaf.
(above: Mangrove Shoot)
Mangroves serve several important functions. They stabilize and extend shorelines through their sediment retention capacities, they create habitat important to large numbers of bird, invertebrate and fish species and they provide organic material which is then recycled through other near-shore (coral reef, seagrass, back reef) communities in close proximity to the stand. Careful examination of the root systems will reveal a profusion of snails, crabs, algae, larval fish, shrimp, bivalves and other species. The mangrove habitat is unique in the area, at its northern limit and is fully protected. It must be viewed with care.
The sand dune habitats found on the wide alluvial fan at the mouth of Wadi Kid harbor one of the largest Arak stands on Egypt and the Middle East. The tree is characterized by its convoluted dune stabilizing root system. Arak twigs have been used traditionally as toothbrushes by Bedouins. This community is irreplaceable but is being subjected to daily deterioration as a result of 4x4 off track driving.
Coral reefs in Nabq are extremely rich. Reef profiles and therefore community structure are different from reefs in the Ras Mohammed National Park. Visibility is often poor as a result of fine sediments washing out of the mangrove area, but this does not detract from the beauty and diversity of the reefs. Excellent reefs with easy access can be seen at Shoura al Manquata and Nakhlet el Tal.
The Nabq area contains gazelle, often seen at sunset in the vicinity of the dune system, Nubian Ibex seen in the mountain areas, Hyrax seen in Wadi Khereiza and numerous small mammals, reptiles and insects.
Bedouin populations are centered in the Khereiza and Al Gharqana villages. The Bedouin are an integral component of the Protectorate; their traditional knowledge of nature is well founded and is often integrated into area management strategies.