The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the conservation organization Space for Giants have signed an agreement to combine their areas of expertise in biodiversity conservation at AlUla, an emerging destination for cultural and natural heritage in northwest Saudi Arabia.
The goals of the agreement are to be realized over the next three years through the collaborative design and delivery of integrated activities for the protection, management, visitation, and monitoring of biodiversity and natural landscapes in line with global commitments, the Saudi Green Initiative, and Vision 2030.
They combine forces with the accord signed on side-lines of the COP28 conference in Dubai
Areas of collaboration under the agreement include:
- Ensure that the ranger force in RCU’s nature reserves has the equipment, capacity, systems, and governance to protect community rights and ranger health and safety.
- Develop communications and technology architecture to provide rangers with the tools to patrol and protect the reserves and share data quickly.
- Develop the management capacity and systems of the reserves so that each achieves IUCN Green List certification by 2025.
- Calculate the potential for reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage capacity at the reserves.
- Promote a nature-based, sustainable ecotourism model for AlUla.
Dr Stephen Browne, RCU’s VP, Wildlife and Natural Heritage, said: “RCU is a growing player in conservation through biodiversity conservation efforts including species reintroduction, habitat restoration, protected area management, and Arabian Leopard conservation. Together with Space for Giants, we aim to raise awareness among citizens and visitors about the conservation of biodiversity and heritage, as well as develop connections between biodiversity conservation stakeholders to create a more sustainably managed and functioning ecosystem.”
Areas of collaboration include reducing carbon emissions at five reserves in AlUla
Dr Max Graham, CEO and founder of Space for Giants, said: “From our origin in elephant conservation, Space for Giants has grown to become a disciplined and innovative collaborator with organizations such as RCU that share our commitment to conservation. Our areas of expertise span conservation landscapes, conservation science, human-wildlife coexistence, and frontline protection for those working in national parks and conservation areas. We are very excited to now be delivering this skill set in Saudi Arabia and to be able to deliver vital and long-lasting conservation benefits to the region.”
Across AlUla County, RCU is creating five nature reserves – Sharaan, Al Gharameel, Wadi Nakhlah, Harrat Alzabin, and Harrat Uwayrid – each with its own distinctive flora, fauna and geological features. These nature reserves cover a combined area of more than 12,500km2 which places more than 50% of all land in AlUla County under active conservation. Patrolling the reserves are 154 wildlife rangers from AlUla County who have completed an 18-month training program.