Law 102 of 1983 and its accompanying decrees provide the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency with the necessary legal instruments to:
1. declare protected areas;
2. equip these with suitable resource management and conservation measures;
3. establish and enforce regulations to safeguard protected resources.
There are 15 Protected Areas in Egypt. Of these, 4 have been declared in Southern Sinai:
1. The Ras Mohammed National Park (declared in 1983)
2. The Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area (declared in 1992)
3. The Abu Galum Managed Resource Protected Area (declared in 1992)
4. The Saint Katherine Protected Area (declared in 1987).
A total of 11,000 square kilometers of the South Sinai Governorate are now protected, including 52% of the Egyptian shoreline on the southern Gulf of Aqaba; coral reefs of international importance; high altitude desert ecosystems; varied and unique coastal habitats; important religious and cultural sites; and other natural attractions of note. The Nature Protection Sector - Department of Protectorates of the EEAA administers these areas on behalf of the state.
The management of natural resources is subject to the normal and often unpredictable changes occurring in complex, often poorly understood ecosystems. If management policies, aimed at protecting resources and biodiversity in those ecosystems, are to be successful, then it is essential that studies are carries out to assess and inventory resources contained in or adjacent to declared Protected Areas.
These studies establish a baseline that records the state of the resources and the impacts these are subjected to. The baseline then forms the framework for the eventual implementation of management measures aimed at achieving protection and conservation objectives.
Crown of Thorns
Management of the South Sinai Protectorates has not followed the standard described above. Faced with the rapid development of the area, as a result of ever increasing investment in the tourism sector, a decision was made to establish logical management and conservation measures to protect existing resources and to modify these measures as baseline data becomes available.
Conservation measures are also adapted to respond to increasing tourism demand for nature and natural areas. These requirements have clear impacts on protected areas. Conservation measures must therefore effectively protect habitats and biodiversity sustainably.
The network of Protectorates in South Sinai has been established to set aside critical ecosystems, protect natural processes, provide natural areas to adjacent tourism development zones, maintain the value of natural resources thus protecting and supporting investments in the area, and to conserve natural resources and biodiversity as a common property and hereditary resource for all Egyptians. These objectives are being achieved with Technical Assistance from the European Union.
EEAA staff in South Sinai (Park Rangers, Managers) are responsible for the enforcement of regulations and the implementation of management policies. To this end they prepare area management plans, install moorings for diving vessels, prepare reef access points, install and maintain directional and regulatory sign posting, and carry out resource inventories. Rangers also patrol all territories and coastlines contained within the boundaries of the Protectorates, including all shorelines fronting the Sharm el Sheikh and Dahab development areas.
Both of these are integral to the Ras Mohammed National Park and the Abu Galum Managed Resource Protected Area respectively.
Park staff also prepare information material for distribution to diving centers and hotels, present educational seminars to selected user groups and liaise with local government and police authorities to ensure that EEAA conservation policies are clearly understood and supported.
Park Management staff also provide free consultancy services to both government agencies and investors on all matters relating to the development of coastal zones fronted by declared Protected Areas. Park experts work closely with investors to review development concepts and supervise works to ensure that these do not damage coral reefs or modify coastlines. They also evaluate beach and reef access requirements and propose access solutions for approval by the EEAA.(right: EEAA field laboratory) These activities have established a unique equilibrium between conservation and development which has protected biodiversity while enhancing the economic value of the area.
Last Updated: June 15th, 2011
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