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Saudi reserve Harrat Uwayrid joins UNESCO environment program

The reserve is the largest of the five nature reserves in AlUla, home to endangered animals and birds.

[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

To enhance the relationship between people and their environments, Saudi Arabia’s Harrat Uwayrid Reserve in Saudi Arabia joined the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Program. In 2021, the Farasan Islands in the kingdom joined the program.

Located in the northwest of the country, Harrat Uwayrid Reserve is the largest of the five nature reserves in AlUla, home to 19 species of endangered animals and 43 types of birds. The reserve also has a rich ecosystem of flora, home to nearly 55 kinds of rare plants.

As per the Saudi Press Agency records, the reserve includes a collection of data on wildlife present, natural and historical landmarks, and ancient human activity in the area.

The decision to include Harrat Uwayrid was taken during UNESCO’s 34th meeting on Wednesday after the reserve met all required registration standards.

“The Man and the Biosphere Program is an intergovernmental scientific program that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments. It combines the natural and social sciences with a view to improving human livelihoods and safeguarding natural and managed ecosystems, thus promoting innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable,” UNESCO said in a statement. 

Last year, UNESCO included the Farasan Islands, known as the “habitat hotspot” and the first site in Saudi Arabia to be listed as a biosphere reserve. Located in the Red Sea, the archipelago includes 90 of Jazan region’s 200 islands and islets with an area of more than 600 square kilometers.

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