Muscat – The sultanate, led by Environment Authority (EA), has started the process of assessing Jabal al Akhdar Nature Reserve and Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve as prospective biosphere reserves under the Unesco World Network of Biosphere Reserves programme.
H E Abdullah bin Ali al Omari, president of EA, held a meeting with several German experts, who are currently visiting the sultanate, on Monday.
‘The meeting was to discuss preparing nomination files for the Jabal al Akhdar Nature Reserve and Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve within the Unesco World Network of Biosphere Reserves,’ stated EA.
There are 727 biosphere reserves in 131 countries, including 22 transboundary sites. Of these, 35 biosphere reserves are in the Arab region spread over 14 countries, with the maximum – eight – in Algeria.
The German delegation visited Jabal Akhdar on Tuesday to inspect the nature reserve to analyse its potential as a Unesco biosphere reserve.
The World Network of Biosphere Reserves programme covers internationally designated protected areas, known as biosphere reserves, which are meant to demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature, encouraging sustainable development.
EA is working in partnership with Germany’s Succow Stiftung, through its Succow Foundation, which is involved in the development and protection of national parks and biosphere reserves in many countries.
Kirsten Meuer of the international nature conservation unit of Succow Foundation told Muscat Daily that the aim of the project is to assess the two sites for their potential for biosphere reserve development. “We are doing an analysis of the potential, assessing which site would be suitable,” she said.
According to Kirsten, initially the company will look at the criteria established by Unesco, including significance of biological diversity conservation, potential for sustainable economic development on a regional scale, cultural significance of the area, stakeholder cooperation, and options for zonation.
“We will assess which criteria are already met and give recommendations on what needs to be done to meet the others. It is possible that another project may follow later, where the biosphere reserve will be established,” she said.