Archive for September, 2011

Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS)

September 30, 2011

The Sudanese Environment Conservation Society (SECS) is a registered NGO and national voluntary society established in 1975. Its main goal is the conservation of environment and achievement of sustainable development through community participation. SECS is an active NGO enjoying a leading role in the formulation and execution of an environmental literacy program.

SECS aims at emphasizing the strong linkage between the environmental well-being and the welfare of the people and believes that peoples’ participation and involvement are the key principles to meet this end. SECS target groups are the public at large with emphasis on local communities and intermediate groups or multipliers, decision makers, teachers, law people, women, farmers, pastoralists and local leaders.

SECS membership is composed of men, women, professionals, teachers, students and ordinary citizens. This membership represents SECS membership in 104 branches all over Sudan.

The Environmental Forum is an independent offshoot established by SECS. It includes about eighty six distinguished and multidisciplinary members academics, environmental specialists, technocrats, politicians, representative of National NGOs and a number of public figures. The Environmental Forum is nursing issues of environment and development and looking after practical, applicable and replicable small pilot projects mainly concerned with conservation of environment and contributes to alleviation of poverty in rural and sub-urban areas.

Address P.O Box :44266,
Telephone +249 018475651


This piece is taken from the website of the African Conservation Foundation.

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The Iraq Foundation: Cleaning the Environment in Iraq

September 30, 2011

Cleaning The Environment in Iraq
(August 19, 2003)

Hasan Ahmed Al-Attar
Tuesday, August 19, 2003

[Part 1] | [Part 2] | [Part 3 | [Part 4]


The environment in Iraq is a real disaster. This can be seen by the state of the health of the Iraqi people. The reappearance of many diseases is directly related to the environmental condition. in the country. In fact it is one of the despotic regime’s crimes against our people. The regime of Sadam had intentionally neglected this vital issue. His unsafe production and storage of chemical and biological weapons and later hushlly destroying them inside the rivers and underground caused many related illnesses. At his eight years of war against Iran and against the Iraqi Kurds, the regime of Sadam used a lots of chemical weapons that destroyed people, land, and water. During the second Gulf war, the allied forces used a lots of weapons that contain depleted uranium and its remain wreckage will cause a lot of concern for many generation to come.

The destruction of the Marsh Land has been proven to be very costly and unrepaired catastrophe.

Protecting the human health and safeguarding the natural environment -air, water, and land upon which life depend is a real honorable patriotic task. It is one of the most pressing issues if we want to build a free and modern society.

Solving the problems of the environment is very beneficent and save lives. It will save a lot of money that otherwise will be directed to treat many infectious diseases.

The damages in our environment is very deep and require very ambitious plans and cooperation of all constituency to solve it.

The new Government of Iraq has to have a clear strategy and approach for the environment set forth by its responsible political organ whether it be a Ministry for the Environment or similar entity enforcing the environmental laws.


The bulk of the environmental issues in Iraq require a special effort to repair the damage which had been inflicted by the despotic regime. Therefore we hope that our new Government will create a special ministry for this purpose. Its main role is in standard setting and should have the ability to delegate back to the various ministry the administration of the various media programs like water and air.

The mission of the ministry of the environment is to protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment-air, water, and land-upon which the life depends. The ministry purpose is to ensure that:

  • All Iraqi are protected from significant risk to human health and the environment were they live, learn and work.
  • National efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.
  • National laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively.
  • Environmental protection is an integral consideration in Iraqi policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy.
  • All parts of society-communities, individuals, business, have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks.
  • Environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive
  • The new Iraq plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.First and immediate action for the ministry of the environment is to clean up the remaining wreckage of the second Gulf war which contains depleted uranium. It is a radiation and chemical waste that is a carcinogenic. Safely disposing this wreckage requires cooperation of the nuclear countries and their experts.

    Second most important task is the cleaning and rehabilitation of the Marsh Land which represents a unique environment zone the homeland of the ancient Arab Marsh people and the birth place of many civilizations. It is a natural habitat for many birds, plants and its shallow water surface is suitable for many economics activities like the plantation of high quality rice and fishing activities. Its large water surface and the growth of wild vegetation ameliorates the harsh climate conditions in the southern part of Iraq.

    The despotic regime used alots of chemical and biological agencies to poison and kill the natural habitats and animals to force the people of the marshes flee their land. The regime intention was “justified” to hunt his opponents and to use this land to hide and later destroyed his chemicals and biological weapons.

    Iraq’s main production is the Oil and its Petrochemical industry, therefore the ministry of the environment has to establish a National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan for responding to both oil spills and hazardous substances release.

    Creating a National Environmental Protection Agency to plan and implement the above mentioned tasks and for all other strategic issues is very helpful in this endeavor. It is the Technical Arm of the Ministry of the Environment.

National Environment Protection Agency (N. E. P. A.)

Once a Ministry for the Environment is created, it should legislate an Environmental Act. Which governs environmental protection, where the effects on land, air, and water are considered simultaneously. This act should encourage environmental responsibility throughout the business and community sectors towards achieving a healthy environment alongside economic prosperity.

The environmental act should establish a Technical Arm to the Ministry of the Environment and to be a National entity covering all country. The board members of this agency should be appointed by the Government of Iraq or by the Environmental Authority based on their practical knowledge and experience in defined areas.

The board is a trusted educator and should be:

  • Independent and makes unbiased, balanced decisions based on best available advise
  • Open and responsive with its stakeholders
  • Professional in its business
  • Proactive and progressive
  • Provide quality and timely information and advice
  • Value the contribution of its supports and partnership organizations
  • Works constructively with the Ministry of the Environment and government of the day.The N.E.P.A.’s mission is to protect human health and the environment through responsible regulation supported by sound science, effective management and comprehensive environmental education. This goal can be achieved by cleaning the existing source of pollution and to develop and implement pollution prevention initiatives that effectively reduce pollutants in Iraq. This should be accomplished by emphasizing source reduction techniques, and as a second preference, environmentally sound recycling. Pollution Prevention avoids cross-media transfer of waste and/or pollutants and is multimedia in scope. It addresses all types of waste and environmental releases to the air, water, and land.
    Long Term Goals and Strategies

    1. Achieve implementation of pollution prevention practices by external customers through technical assistance.

    1. Provide education, training, and research on pollution prevention practices, including on-site assistance.
    2. Provide technology transfer, including demonstration of pollution prevention practices.

    3. Provide financial assistance. 4. Use quality related activities to continually improve services provided under this goal. 5. Work with other organizations to promote implementation of pollution prevention practices. 6. Develop and implement a plan to market the services of the pollution prevention.

    2. Incorporate pollution prevention into the standard practices of Iraqi government, business and non-governmental organizations

    1. Assist business with incorporating pollution prevention into their standard operating procedures. 2. Assist in incorporating pollution prevention activities throughout all levels of government in Iraq.

    3. Effectively measure and communicate pollution prevention progress to internal and external customers.

    1. Develop/Continue activities to quantitatively measure pollution progress by external customers. 2. Develop/Continue activities to qualitatively measure pollution progress by external customers. 3. Develop and publicized information indicating pollution prevention progress. 4. Continuously review and improve pollution prevention measures and efforts to communicate pollution prevention progress in the country.

    4. Develop and implement appropriate non-regulatory prevention initiatives.

    1. Implement and promote appropriate national non-regulatory pollution prevention initiatives 2. Implement and encourage appropriate local non-regulatory pollution prevention initiatives. 3. Implement appropriate consumer non-regulatory pollution prevention initiatives. 4. Review and consider for adoption of additional non-regulatory pollution prevention initiatives 5. Develop and implement additional non-regulatory pollution prevention initiatives

    5. Continually Improve the quality of services provided to the customers

    1. Participate in and periodically evaluate quality related activities. 2. Increase the level of input in determining the strategic directions of the Pollution Preventive Programs

National Safe Drinking Water Act (NSDWA)

The National Environmental Act shall legislate a National Safe Drinking Water Act to protect our surface and ground water. It is to protect the consumer by controlling the waterborne disease bacteria and viruses. The NSDWA is a set of regulated standards controlling the water contaminants based on sound science. It is a trusted solution in curbing the spread of disease such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery. This national standard should include the control of other contaminants that cause public concern like the presence of some organic and inorganic chemicals that cause certain cancers. The authority of this act is to:

  • Set a national standards regulating the level of contaminants in drinking water
  • Regulate public water systems to monitor and report their levels of identified contaminants.
  • Established uniform guidelines specifying the acceptable treatment technologies for cleansing drinking water of unsafe levels of pollutants.Drinking water regulations are some times called “interim” because research continues on drinking water contaminants. They maybe strengthened and new standards maybe established for other substances based on new studies. But in any case the NSDWA has to set up a timetable under which required to develop PRIMARY Standards for certain contaminants (will be amended later on) and to:



  • Define an approved treatment techniques to each regulated contaminant.
  • Specify criteria for filtration of surface and ground water supplies.
  • Prohibit the use of lead products in material used to convey drinking water.All water treatment plant operators need to be thoroughly familiar with the national standards that apply to domestic water supply systems.

    These regulations are the goals and guideposts for the water supply industry.

    The purpose is to ensure the uniform delivery of safe and aesthetically pleasing drinking water to the public.

    Setting Standards

    A standard is usually the maximum level of a substance that deemed acceptable in drinking water. The first step in setting of a standard is to study the human and animal health effect of a given chemical. These studies are normally performed using rats or mice. Based on these studies a ” No Observed Adverse Effect Level “-(NOAEL) is established. A safe factor is added to NOAEL and the result is an acceptable daily intake limit of the chemical in question. The limit is adjusted to take into account the average weight and water consumption of the consumer, and the resulting figure is called the Maximum Contaminant Level Goal or MCLG. This level is set at zero for known or probable human carcinogens, and at a level where no adverse health effect would occur with a margin of safety for non carcinogens.

    The MCLG represents a safe level of consumption based solely on its studies of health effects. It is however, a goal rather than an immediately achievable constituent limit. To develop more realistic enforceable limit, we have to revise the MCLG to take into account existing laboratory detection technology, cost, and reasonableness. After adjusting for these factors we set for Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) as close to MCLG as is realistically feasible. The important difference between the two levels is that the MCLG is a non enforceable goal and the MCL is an enforceable standard.

    We have to establish standards (MCL) for chemicals, pesticides, bacteria and viruses, radioactivity, turbidity, and trihalomethanes. Most of these substances occur naturally in our environment and in the food we eat. However the MCL apply whether the contaminant is from naturally occurring sources or from manmade pollution. Therefore the national drinking water standards set by this act reflect the levels we can safely consume in our water, taking into account the amount we are exposed to from these other sources.

    Primary Drinking Water Standards

    Primary Standards or MCLS are set for substances that are thought to pose a threat to health when present in drinking water at certain levels because these substances are of health concern. Primary standards are enforceable by law (in contrast secondary standards relate to cosmetic factors and are not enforceable.). A primary standard is usually expressed as a maximum contaminant level MCL. Some contaminants, such as pathogenic organisms, are very difficult or expensive to measure so using specific treatment techniques (disinfection or filtration for example) which are known to be effective in reducing the health risk of these contaminants. Under this category of primary standards are many microbial, inorganic and organic chemical contaminants.

    Types of Water Systems

    All of the drinking water regulations apply to all public water systems. It makes no difference whether the water system is publicly or privately owned. A public water system is defined as any system which:

    1- Has at least 15 service connections, or
    2- Regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year.\

    Any water system that provides service for fewer connections or persons than this is not covered by NSDWA. Certain other individuals and residences also are excluded. Such as those whose water is supplied by an irrigation, old mining, and industrial water system. However, regardless of size, all operators must strive to provide consumers with a potable drinking water.

    Drinking water regulations also take into account the type of population served by the system and classify water systems as community and non community systems. Therefore, in order to understand what requirements apply to any specific system, it is first necessary to determine whether the system is considered a community or a non community system. A community water system is defined as one which:



  • Has at least 15 service connections used by all-year residents, or
  • Regularly serves at least 25 all-year residents.Any public water system that is not a community water system is classified as non community water system. Restaurant, campground and hotels could be considered non community systems for purposes of drinking water regulations.

    [Part I] | [Part II] | [Part III]

    Notes:I end my contribution at this point due to other pressing engagements that I am involved with. But I will be very happy to answer any concern regarding the environment. My contribution based on my experience in Canada. I have no practical knowledge of the environment in Iraq. I left my beloved country 1975, Insha Allah I will visit my country next winter.

    My contribution is for my mother and my brother who are both victims of the environmental conditions in Iraq, and to the inhabitants of the mass graves who were victims of the despotic dictatorship of Sad dam.

    The author is a Biotechnologist and Environmentalist , has been working with the Canadian Government and Environmental Companies for the last 13 years, and can be reached at


This piece is taken from the website of the Iraq Foundation.

See on-line at:

One Step at a Time – by Gwynne

September 21, 2011

One Step at a Time



by GWYNNE[2]


True change in environmental issues will involve more than raising awareness about the issues. Adaptation to environmental vulnerability is possible through a combination of understanding of the issues and appropriate measures. The way forward relies on many interventions that need to be in place immediately. As is the urgency of intervention there is need for as many stakeholders to be involved. The socio-economic situation in Africa aggravates the impact of environmental disasters. Therefore poverty reduction and environmental concerns need to be dealt with simultaneously as any progress made in either sector would easily be undone by a collapse in the other. This article seeks to highlight some generic solutions found in environmental studies dialogue with particular reference to the environmental issues referred to in previous articles[3].



As noted environmental issues are a threat to development. Socioeconomic challenges such as widespread poverty, rapid urbanisation, conflict and limited governance in some areas make dealing with environmental disasters difficult. Conversely environmental disasters merely exacerbate existing problems. The only solution is therefore to deal with both concerns simultaneously; a tragedy in either quarter would undo any progress made in another area if not concurrently managed. An example: desertification occurs where cultivation, inappropriate agricultural practices, overgrazing and deforestation cause land degradation, it is in fact a result of much deeper underlying forces of socio-economic nature, such as poverty and total dependency on natural resources for survival by the poor. The poor inevitably become both the victims and agents of environmental damage.


Regional level: Better data will allow policymakers to identify existing migratory trends, determine the linkages with climate change-related events, and prioritise action in expected areas. Channels of communication are particularly important in strengthening regional and trans-regional networks in mitigating and responding security risks such as migration. The Regional Environmental Education (EE) Programme[4] is to enable environmental education practitioners in the SADC region to strengthen environmental education processes for equitable and sustainable environmental management choices. This will be achieved through networking, resource materials, training capacity, and research and evaluation.


National level: An example here are the National Action Programmes to combat desertification (NAPs). They are important tools in guiding the implementation, donor coordination and monitoring of efforts in combating desertification and poverty reduction. As of April 2007, NAPs had been developed and adopted by 42 African countries. The NAP process was powerful in awareness raising, educating and mobilizing various stakeholders and therefore empowering them on drought and desertification issues. It also triggered and resulted into institutional and legislative reforms supportive of effective measures for tackling drought and land degradation. Some countries have set up National Desertification Funds (NDFs) as part of the NAP process. The NDFs serve as local and easily accessible sources of funding for implementation of NAP priorities[5].


Many African countries have formulated and are implementing national environmental policies, strategies and plans. In many countries, National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs), which were first formulated in the early 1990s, have provided the broad policy framework for coordinated management and protection of the environment. They articulate among other things, policy interventions for conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources, including land management and integrated resource planning. These include improving farming skills; improving the supply, replication and dissemination of technologies; ensuring access to land and tenure security; resolving problems of drought prone regions; and improving agricultural marketing systems, pro soil and water conservation, traditional agro-forestry and water harvesting[6].  


Greater national budgetary concern is needed to assess and estimate the socio-economic implications of environmental vulnerability, as contrasted to a more narrow environmental issue, and thus attract attention of economists and development planners. There is need to integrate national responses to climate change fully into economic planning and management at all levels that needs to be reflected in the national budget. Given the long life of major infrastructure such as dams, greater consideration of changes in the next 20, 30 or 50 years is needed. In particular, it is necessary to avoid that adaptation measures have negative unintended effects or increase horizontal inequalities. Improving inter-sector cooperation between various ministries will be important to minimise such risks.


Combating low food reserves and poverty reduction can be done in chorus by changing from subsistence farming to commercial farming. Enhancing food security requires agricultural production systems to change in the direction of higher productivity and also, essentially, lower output variability in the face of environmental disaster that threatens food security. Increasing production allows for adequate food supply and even surplus for storage for periods when environmental disasters threaten, disrupt or destroy crops. In order to stabilize output and income, production systems must become more resilient, i.e. more capable to perform well in the face of perturbing events. More productive and resilient agriculture requires transformations in the management of natural resources and higher efficiency in the production system (e.g. water use, soil nutrients, and genetic resources). These transformations are particularly needed in smallholder systems that are the main source of food and income for most of Africa’s poorest people[7].


Community level: One key element in integrating climate risk management into development practice is reaching people at the level of communities. At a local level: planting practices can change from season to season to adapt to climate variability. Such is a shift in crop mix such as moving from water-intensive corn cultivation to more traditional crops that require less water. Supplementary feeding schemes can assist when grazing is in short supply. A long-term recovery strategy and insurance against the impact of future droughts is changing the species in the herd exchanging cattle for camels and goats. Livestock banking has been proposed on the analogy of cereal banks, to assist producers to carry stock across the difficult seasons. Livestock banking proposes that the expense of restocking can be spared if, during parts of the year, animals can be traded in to an independently owned ‘bank’ in return for a token. Other alternatives might include simply turning the animals into cash and then rebuying when prices are low[8]. Another idea is that of urban agriculture to deal with the influx of people in urban areas, to increase food production and to ease the burden on rural agriculture. In addition it might ease the unemployment as people are self employed.


African traditional knowledge and local adaptation strategies are key entry and starting points for any purposive action. The development of appropriate adaptation measures has to be based on strategic information sharing that is culturally oriented and easily understandable by local communities. Resilient farming systems farmers are repository for traditional and indigenous knowledge, enterprise, skills, and practices related to crop and animal production.



  • In Humbane village in Gwanda, Zimbabwe, traditional method rainwater harvesting is used so that families can harvest enough food even when the rains are low.
  • Ethiopian farmers have adopted a range of adaptation measures in response to climate changes, including altering crop varieties, adopting soil and water conservation, and changing planting and harvesting periods, in response to changes in rain. In the Nile River Basin (Ethiopia), for instance, farmers grow 48 different crops and those who took adaptation methods produce more per hectare than those who did not.
  • Conflict resolution and community services—in DRC, local people relied on their own institutions, known as chambers dex paix or ‘peace councils’ and composed of elders, to deal with issues related to access to land that were fuelling the conflict.
  • The migration of pastoralists to areas of higher productivity alleviates stress on less productive or exhausted land. Restocking is usually thought of as something perpetrated by agencies, but pastoralists have their own systems of insurance against drought. Herders prepare for drought and epizootics by ‘lending’ their animals to relatives or friends in exchange for looking after some of their animals in return. Despite this, some interest groups argue that pastoralists are inherently inefficient and self-destructive, and should be settled, as is the official line in Nigeria, for example (Awogbade, 1981).

SOURCE: Climate Change and Security in Africa;  Vulnerability Discussion Paper: Valerie Ndaruzaniye, President, Global Water Institute Eckhard Volkmann, Desk Officer, Peacebuilding and Crisis Prevention, Federal Government

of Germany.PG15



Traditional adaptation strategies for coping with climate variability and extreme events are not well documented, neither is there an adequate sharing experience of which techniques work and which need to be adjusted for facing additional risks.





Information provided by environmental concern groups must be credible. This improves the effectiveness of early warning systems, allays hysteria and allows for the correct and appropriate measures to be taken. The dependence of most African economies on rain fed agriculture emphasizes the importance of drought early warning products for short- and long-term decision making in various sectors of the national economies. Accurate information is needed for identifying and prioritizing appropriate responses, and evaluating the impact of the interventions. The need for monitoring, mapping, and analysis of all disaster incidents, is linked to risk factors and vulnerability profiles. Assessments of the impacts on specific sectors that are important for livelihood security, e.g., agriculture and rural livelihoods and the effects on specific social and economic groups needs to be documented. African culture has much historical data passed on through oral tradition this needs to be placed in archives and could assist in identifying trends that would enable forecasting.



Approximately 90% of African households use biomass fuels (e.g. wood and vegetation) for cooking and water heating. A combination of unsustainable harvesting of forests and climate change (including unpredictable rainfall levels, drought, and flooding) threatens this high rate of biomass users with decreased forest cover rates, increased soil degradation, and supply disruption[9]. Reforestation projects are crucial to counteract the impact these activities are having. An expansion of electrical grids especially to rural areas will decrease dependence on biomass fuel. Electrical grids are only a solution to this problem if they are powered by clean fuel sources and to wean populations off complete dependence on biomass fuels. Most countries in Africa receive enough hours of sunlight to make a switch to solar energy a viable one. The one hindrance here is the high cost of implementation.


Africa has a largely unexploited hydropower potential. Utilising this would increase supply to match increased demand and would do so with reduced green house gas emissions. Less than 4% of Africa’s hydropower potential is currently utilized.  Governments could encourage the development of small-scale, hydro-schemes powered by private firms. Privatization could reduce financial burden on the government and encourage wide range of stakeholders. Also Run-of-the river hydropower projects avoid some of the drawbacks of larger dams and thus may be preferable where this option is available. However, care must be taken to consider the implications of large hydro projects on water resources and river basin management[10].




As can be seen from the different levels above reducing environmental vulnerability requires multi-level stakeholder coordination and communication. There are many advantages to involving the private sector no least is the much needed additional funding that the private sector would provide. Dialogue, raising awareness, fostering cooperation and participation in decision-making processes within and between countries is also essential.


The task before African governments is not an easy nor is there a single solution. Resolving the problem will require enormous financial commitment possibly more than is currently available to African governments, dedication to continuous development of cleaner sources of fuel with particular regard for poverty alleviation. The simultaneous managing of environmental vulnerability together with poverty reduction is necessary as one problem tends to feed the other while diminution of one diminishes the other. Government mechanisms at regional national and community level are required to enable the synchronized task of reducing Africa’s vulnerability to environmental disasters. In addition aid from non-governmental organisations as well as other donor parties is crucial as existing problems mean that African governments enter this arena with a handicap.  The situation though ominous is not without hope much has been done to enable African people to cope with environmental tragedies. Existing strategies are a step in the right direction, with many more steps required.




[1] This paper is a policy paper for decision makers throughout the African continent and outside of it. This paper includes recommendations for ways of action to be taken in order to effectively deal with the environmental vulnerabilities in Africa in general and in the SADC in particular which were discussed in Gwynne’s previous two articles.  

[2] Gwynne is a new research fellow in Green Compass Research. Gwynne can be reached at – gwynne04@gmailcom

[3] See The day after tomorrow. And To be or not to be. Environment and Humanitarian Disasters in Africa.Green Compass Research


[5] UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR AFRICA Fifth Meeting of the Africa Committee on Sustainable Development (ACSD-5) Regional Implementation Meeting (RIM) for CSD-16 Addis  Ababa 22-25 October 2007 Africa Review Report on DROUGHT AND DESERTIFICATION. pg 22

[6] No.4 above .pg26

[7] Climate Change and Security in Africa;  Vulnerability Discussion Paper: Leslie Lipper, Senior Environmental Economist, UN FAO Mulat Demeke, Economist, UN FAO Jeronim Capaldo, Economist, UN FAO.

[8] Working Paper 117 DROUGHT AND LIVESTOCK IN SEMI-ARID AFRICA AND SOUTHWEST ASIA Roger Blench Zoë Marriage March 1999 Overseas Development 20-25


[9] Climate Change and Security in Africa;  Vulnerability Discussion Paper: Daniel Fiott, Research Fellow, Madariaga—College of Europe Foundation Patrice Yamba T. Kantu, Project Coordinator, Institute for Environmental Security Florian Peter Iwinjak, UNIDO. Pg 23

[10] Climate change and Africa: Africa Partnership Forum 8th Meeting of the Africa Partnership Forum Berlin, Germany 22-23 May 2007.pg11


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Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – Activities & Programme

September 15, 2011

MEMAC Programmes in general:
        Under the Protocol Concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution by Oil and Other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency, MEMAC is working closely with its Member States. This work can be briefed as follows: 

–  Revising National Contingency Planning and providing experts and observers during the course of revision and exercise.
–  Revising laws, regulations and different Conventions related to marine pollution.   
–  Providing information with regard to technology, researches, methods and techniques in relation with combating or related matters. Besides, MEMAC has issued a list of Experts and Companies available regionally and worldwide and working in the field for emergency. MEMAC also reports all the incidents in the Region and follows up activities such as cleaning, etc.

MEMAC Programmes:
        MEMAC in co-operation with Member States monitoring and studying frequently each and every incident caused a pollution or likelihood to the marine environment.  The study will include all aspects wither technical or legal.  Accordingly, the Programme will be assigned by the ROPME Council.

Following is a brief reflecting the Programme activities which assigned by the ROPME Council and executed or in progress by MEMAC.


The Regional and National Contingency Plans:
        As the Regional and National Contingency Plans are the main elements of the objectives and functions of MEMAC, a main framework for the Regional Contingency Plan was established few years ago.  This plan was under frequent annual revision by the Region Response Officers to fulfill its main elements.

        Further, MEMAC continuously followed up the National Contingency Plan for each Member State through the Oil Spill Response Officers in the Region, providing them with technical assistance in order to achieve the compatibility with the Regional Contingency Plan and frequent Regional drill exercise conducted biennially.


Damage Assessment Guidelines:
        ROPME Sea Area is a virtual marine paradise where a great variety of marine creatures exist. The shore lines and the sea waters in the region form a unique ecosystem in which fish, birds, mammals, and many different types of plants interact for their existence. Besides, there are the oil and gas resources.  All of these form productive resources for the human and for the marine environment. Thus the region with its natural resources is considered one of the richest regions in the world. Such type of nature needs a great effort of assessment of damages followed by any oil spill incidents for reinstatement and rehabilitation. A Damage Assessment Guidelines was processed and published after a lengthy study by Regional and International experts who carried it out to cover this important issue. The Guidelines covers all the resources such as the Coral Reefs, Sands, Mangroves, Birds, Turtles, Breading and Nursery areas as well as Industrial areas and Tourism areas, which all are given in brief with method of reinstatement.


OPRC 1990:

The International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation, 1990 (OPRC 90)

        Recognizing the importance of OPRC in facilitating international cooperation in preparing for and responding to major oil spill incidents and with a view of enhancing the regional capabilities in addressing marine emergencies effectively to minimize environmental damage and to save human life,  it is no doubt that an international instrument will be in need to work along with the Regional Kuwait Convention to preserve these resources. MEMAC invited all the Member States experts, on the 29th and 30th March 2005, to discuss the OPRC Convention and the Protocol on Preparedness, Response and Co-operation to Pollution Incidents by Hazardous and Noxious Substances, 2000 (OPRC-HNS Protocol). The meeting was also attended by the  representatives of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), where a verification for the existing oil spill combating system and the readiness in the region were verified.  

The meeting concluded that all Member States had already met all the obligations of the Convention and it would be of great benefit to have accessions to the OPRC Convention. The recommendations were forwarded to the Member States for further process, where I. R. Iran is already a party to the Convention and the Sultanate of Oman is on final stage of ratifying while the  other States are in different levels of process as it has been  reported.


Search and Rescue:
        For several years MEMAC has dealt with this subject based in humanitarian aspects, where in some occasions the rescue was associated with the oil spill incidents and many lives were salvaged. But the mandate of MEMAC is different and it is purely to deal with oil spills. For this reason a meeting for the Member States’ experts and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) representatives was convened in the Kingdom of Bahrain on the 19th and 20th November 2005 to study this matter. The meeting recognized that all ROPME Member States have their fairly adequate existing plans for maritime search and rescue services and they need to consider the International Search and Rescue Convention. The Member States I.R. Iran, Sultanate of Oman and United Arab Emirates are already parties to the Convention. It is strongly recommend that a regional framework to be established along with a regional organization for this subject. The meeting recommended MEMAC to take over this initiative due to its vast regional experience. The subject is left with the Member States for deep study and decision.

Trajectory Modeling:
        The modeling is one of the important tools to predict oil slicks whenever an oil spill incident occurs. The model is of great assistance for the protection strategy plans.  This has been exercised by MEMAC and the Member States. For several years MEMAC and the Member States have been using the NOAA model which was prepared by NOAA, ROPME and MEMAC for the Region. As the existing model is of a large scale and more general in covering the Region data, the Member States decided to have a more up-dated model with details as the activities and the offshore installations in the Region have increased. A project contract with BMT, as a well known experienced company in the field, was established in order to provide the Region with a model which is known as OASIS Model. This model had been handed over to all of our Member States during 2007 with on site training carried out by the BMT specialist.

The Reception Facilities and MARPOL 73/78:
         The special hydrographic and ecological characteristics of the fragile marine environment of the Region and its particular vulnerability to pollution due to high shipping traffic density, along with the coastal and offshore human activities, require a highly effective and strong approach. The Region produces over 56% of the world energy and receives over 30,000 vessels of different types transiting in a semi-close sea per annum. It is a challenge and an effective major should take place. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL 73/78) has been taken seriously by ROPME Council.

A feasibility study has been carried out for about five years for establishing the Reception Facilities in the Region as a main obligation towards ratifying the MARPOL 73/78 Convention. The study has been carried out and it is still under follow-up by the Regional steering Committee as well as by each of the Member States’ National Steering Committee.

The joint Regional efforts have led the Member States to ratify the MARPOL 73/78 Convention. The early ratification of the Convention by the Sultanate of Oman and the joint efforts of the Member States during the IMO Meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee have assisted the Region in expanding the Special Area of the Region by about 200 nautical miles from the Omani coast towards the Arabian Sea to cover all the ROPME Sea Area.

The main target of ratifying the Convention is to declare the area as a “Special Sea Area” which means no oil or any other substances would be discharged from ships, and shipping must follow the IMO standards.

During the MEPC 56, meeting on the 9th – 13th July 2007 a Resolution adopted and a dated decided on having the Special Area status in effect as of the 1st August 2007, in according to Regulation 1.11.5 of Annex I and Regulation 5(1)(e) of Annex V of MARPOL 73/78 Convention. 


The Loan and Transboundary Movement ofPersonnel, Equipment, and Materials in Cases of Emergency and Technical Assistance:
        MEMAC has laid this important subject’s guidelines which have been a good reference in use by the Member States.

        Through MEMAC, a number of Regional and International experts have been designated to assess damages occurred in the marine environment and the coastal areas of the Region, as well as different types of equipment have been transported and moblized from state to state in the Region under MEMAC guidance. 


Oil Pollution Manual:
        As one of the main functions of MEMAC is to prepare an Oil Pollution Manual for the Region, MEMAC has offered the IMO Oil Pollution Manual Section IV for the Region’s utilization.  This is because of the active role of MEMAC and ROPME Member States in preparing the IMO manual where the regional requirements are reflected.  The specific regional information is to be published separately beside the IMO Manual.

 Besides, several manuals have been issued such as the Legal Guidelines and the Safety Guidelines.  


Development of Safety Programme for Harmful/Hazardous Substances:

         This Programme is dedicated mainly for chemical spills where it is divided into two parts:  the training and the tools.  The tools aims to assist and support in taking a decision during the chemical spills.  The tools include the following:

  • Comprehensive list of equipment recommended for the combating of chemical spills.
  •   A Publication listing all the possible available chemicals world wide ranking all the chemical toxicity, properties, atmospheric plum dispersion and safety emergency procedures.

This is made available also electronically by means of CD Format for prompt enquiries.

  • A well known model, such as TNO, is made available for the Member States’ use.
  • Further, a link is made to Chemical Response and it has been made available within MEMAC web site.


 Marine Environmental High Risk Areas (MEHRA’s):
        MEHRA’s is one of the main and highly important projects under the process by MEMAC.  A number of ROPME Member States’ Experts and Experts from ANATEC Company, which has  excellent experience in such types of projects,  met on the 12th and 13th June 2005 in Bahrain.  They launched the project after discussion and agreement of each Committee Member’s role.


Project Objectives:
To identify areas within the ROPME Sea which should be designated as  Marine Environmental High Risk Areas.

To establish a tool kit i.e. GIS Model, which can be updated as new information on environmental sensitivity.

 Scope of Work:
Collection of data such as shipping traffic and environmental data.
Analysis of accident data.
Risk Assessment.
Identification of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas.
Software Implementation and training the trainers.

 The main issues tackled by MEHRA’s will be as follows:

  • §  Understanding of the risk of marine pollution to sea areas and coastlines in the Region and identifying areas of highest risk.
  • §  Development of a database of shipping movements, which can be utilized to assess the risks. or impacts associated with future offshore developments taking place in the region.
  • §  Development of a GIS system on all coastal environmental sensitivity areas, which can be used to keep information up-to-date for future environmental impact assessment being carried out in the region.
  • §  Identification of areas of highest environmental sensitivity.
  • §  Identification of Marine Environmental High Risk Areas for the region based on pollution risk and environmental sensitivity.
  • §  Use of the system to identify areas where pollution response and traffic management measures require to be focused.
  • §  The system can be used for any of the Member States in the region, applying to IMO for a Particularly Sensitive Area (PSSA).

Port State Control (PSC):
        During the period of the years 1996 – 2002, the Region witnessed a number of oil pollution incidents resulted from serious forms of coastal vessels casualties.  As a normal procedure, accident investigation and analysis, the importance of the PSC was concluded.  MEMAC took the initiative and convened a regional meeting in co-operation with IMO and with the attendance of GCC Secretariat along with the Member States’ concerned Ministries and Experts, where the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the Port State Control for ROPME Region was laid – The MOU was ratified by all Member States in May 2003.  As the MOU falls within the specialty of Ministries and Port Authorities, the matter is left with the GCC Secretariat in order to form the Information Centre which has been decided to be in Muscat-Sultanate of Oman.  MEMAC will keep its commitments towards the execution of and co-operation in this matter.

MEMAC Database:
        A tremendous amount of information is collected for the database, which is divided into Regional Oil Spill Equipment manufactures and companies working in the field and environmental experts and institutions, and there is  still much more to come.

A special form is made available for companies, experts and institutions for registration within ROPME Region’s Data-base aiming to make all these services available for the Member States’ utilization to protect the marine environment.

 Note: To join the Data Base, the Registration Form is available within        the site 

 Survey of Wrecks:
        A Task Force was established with the participation of I.R. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, UNEP, UN Representatives, IAEA, CEDRE, ROPME/MEMAC and UNDP which took the lead afterwards.  Several meetings took place in ROPME Headquarters for this Task. 

The Task Force supervised, co-operated and executed a survey for covering  42 wrecks starting from North Bubian Is. up to UM-Al-Qasser and Khor Al-Zubair.  The main concern was the polluting content of the wrecks, where over 150 samples were taken for analysis and wrecks location were surveyed for safe vessels’ traffic passage.


Master Plan:
This project started at 2007, where the “Master Plan” shall address the future planning of how the region shall be fitted out with pollution and navigational hazards prevention and control capabilities, based on the future trade volumes and the possible hazards to the environment.

Once this “Master Plan” is drawn and approved it will constitute a very essential tool on how to coordinate present and future activities, the “Master Plan” shall enable ROPME to avoid duplications in spending on facilities such as pollution control and navigations safety centers, the implementation of this “Master Plan” can be self financing through proper management of compensations and retrieval of pollution control cost.        

The preparation of the Master Plan may be accomplished in three main phases:

Phase 1:   Implementation of MARPOL 73/78.
Phase 2:   Pollution Control (Legal and Technical).
Phase 3:   Safety of Navigation.


The Task:

  1. The Task set out in the MEMAC scope of work and terms of reference is to develop a Master Plan which will enable the MEMAC to fulfill its responsibilities of over sighting and coordinating the safe operation of shipping and the protection of the marine environment including the combat of marine pollution in the ROPME Sea Area over the next 10-15 year period.
  1. In order to develop the Master Plan, the consultants will review and make recommendations on the following matters in ROPME Sea Area countries and major ports
  • review the current situation with regard to the flag State’s accession, implementation and enforcement of  the IMO mandatory conventions and the additional  coastal State conventions,
  • review the port Sate control regime in each country and its coordination across the region
  • review vessel traffic services, ship routing, vessel reporting systems and the extent of integration to provide safe navigation of shipping through the region
  • review current shipping traffic in the ROPME Sea Area and provide an estimation of future levels of shipping in the region
  • review the extent of regional implementation of electronic charting
  • review  the current shipping incident investigation system
  • review the adequacy of the existing visual and electronic navigational aids
  • identify potential navigation hazards
  • identify appropriate regional cooperation in managing maritime operational issue
  • review existing and potential funding mechanisms for the provision of maritime safety, navigational safety services and pollution response in each country and from a regional perspective
  • review progress in establishing ship port waste reception facilities
  • review oil and chemical pollution response arrangements in each country as well as the regional approach to pollution response, including levels of response equipment, contingency plans, training and the availability of trained personnel in pollution response with the view to establishing a ‘state of the art’ pollution response system
  • review regional ship emergency response and communications arrangements including  designation of a place of refuge in an marine emergency and the need for maritime assistance services
  • review funding mechanisms for pollution response including provision and operation of pollution response centers by the private sector,
  • review the availability of compensation for pollution response and damage by the various international pollution compensation regimes.
  • review existing  and required legislation for all the above activities
  • identify the most appropriate regional approach to all above matters, with a view to ensuring the most effective coordination of maritime safety and marine environment protection services, avoiding the risk of costly duplication
  • the Master Plan shall include a continual review mechanism
  1.  In the review of the above listed matters the Consultants will use and take note of relevant IMO Conventions, IMO Assembly Resolutions and MSC/MEPC resolutions including but not limited to the following:
  • A 973 (24) Code for the Implementation of Mandatory IMO Instruments
  • A974 (24)  Framework & Procedures for Voluntary IMO Audit Scheme
  • A 881 (21) Self -assessment of flag State performance
  • A 847 (20) Guidelines to assist flag States in implementation of IMO instruments
  • Resolution MEPC. 83 (44) on Guidelines for ensuring the adequacy of port waste reception facilities.

The Oil Spill Response Officers (OSRO):
      The Oil Spill Response Officers in the Region have frequent annual meetings, or whenever it is deemed necessary, and as it is assigned to them by Their Excellencies the Ministers of the Environment.  In these meetings they discuss each National Contingency Plan, presenting all the obstacles and updating all the main elements of the National Contingency Plans.

During their meetings they discuss and review several important regional issues executed by MEMAC such as:

  • Revising all the main elements of the Regional and National Contingency Plans, precautions and the Regional preparedness
  • Providing technical assistance to some Member States in order to update their National Contingency Plans
  • Ratifying the Oil Preparedness Convention, OPRC 1990
  • Regional Arrangements for Search and Rescue
  • Preparing and collecting oil finger printings.

Regional and International Events:
MEMAC has always sought the Regional and International cooperation which has been reflected in different activities aiming to protect the Region’s marine environment. These activities have reflected in MEMAC’s participation in IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) regular meeting. It also participated in the IMO working group in order to reflect the Region’s concern to the new International instruments. This includes the updating of the training courses and manuals, beside the support of the Member States’ representatives during the MEPC meetings where continuous meetings and exchanging of views among the representatives take place.

Further, MEMAC participated in those important events held Internationally and Regionally, highlighting MEMAC’s activities, expressing its concern towards the protection of the marine environment and exchanging views with other experts.

A close co-operation with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) always stands there as a close partner for the protection of the ROPME Sea Area. This is reflected in different projects and training courses


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre.

See on-line at: 




Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – How MEMAC Deals with Incidents?

September 15, 2011

Upon receiving notification of an oil spill incident from any source, the following steps are taken immediately:

  • Verification of the incident.
  • Collect complete data about the incident.
  • Notifying and transmission of all data to all Member States.
  • Notifying local, regional and international private sectors working in the field of combating marine pollution to be on standby in case of necessity
  • Continuous exchange of incident data and follow-up.
  • Updated information about the incident status is continuously provided to all Member States
  • Legal and technical advice is continuously provided to the Member States
  • Oil Spill Trajectory Model is used for early prediction
  • In case of any assistance in needed, MEMAC liaises with the Member States as well as with other regional and international firms.
  • A record about the incident is kept for studying and as a lesson to be learnt for future avoidance of any similar incident.


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre .

See on-line at:

Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC) – About MEMAC

September 15, 2011

Established on 4th August 1982 at Manama, Bahrain, within the framework of Kuwait Regional Convention for Co-operation on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Pollution together with the Protocol concerning Co-operation in Combating Pollution by Oil & other Harmful Substances in Cases of Emergency which were signed on 24th April 1978 at Kuwait.

Member States:
1- Kingdom of Bahrain
2- Islamic Republic of Iran
3- Republic of Iraq
4- State of Kuwait
5- Sultanate of Oman
6- State of Qatar
7- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
8- United Arab Emirates

Objectives (Article III)
a)   to strengthen the capacities of the Contracting States and to facilitate co-operation among them in order to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances in cases of marine emergencies;

b)   to assist Contracting States, which so request in the development of their own national capabilities to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances and co-ordinate and facilitate information exchange, technological co-operation and training;

c)  a later objective,  namely the possibility of initiating operations to combat pollution by oil and other harmful substances at the regional level, may be considered. This possibility should be submitted for approval by the Council after evaluating the results achieved in the fulfillment of the previous objectives and in the light of financial resources which could be made available for this purpose.

Functions (Article III)
a)  To collect and disseminate to the Contracting States information concerning matters covered by this Protocol, including:

  ( i) laws, regulations and information concerning appropriate authorities of the Contracting States and marine emergency contingency plans referred to in Article V of this Protocol ;

(ii) information concerning methods, techniques and research relating to marine emergency response referred to in Article VI of this Protocol; and

  (iii) list of experts, equipment and materials available for marine emergency responses by the Contracting States ;

b) to assist the Contracting States, as requested :

(i) in the preparation of laws and regulations concerning matters covered by the Protocol and in the establishment of appropriate authorities ;

(ii) in the preparation of marine emergency contingency plans ;

(iii) in the establishment of procedures under which personnel, equipment and materials involved in marine emergency responses may be expeditiously transported into, out of and through their respective countries;

(iv) in the transmission of reports concerning marine emergencies; and

(v) in promoting and developing training programs for combating pollution .

c) to co-ordinate training programs for combating pollution and prepare comprehensive anti – pollution manuals;

d) to develop and maintain a communication/information system appropriate to the needs of the Contracting States and the Centre for the prompt exchange of information concerning marine emergencies required by this Protocol;

e) to prepare inventories of the available personnel, material, vessels, aircraft and other specialised equipment for marine emergency response;

f) to establish and maintain liaison with competent regional and international organisations, particularly the International  Maritime Organisation of the United Nations, for the purposes of obtaining and exchanging scientific and technological information and data, particularly in regard of any new innovation which may assist the Centre in the performance of its functions ;

g) to prepare periodic reports on marine emergencies for submission to the Council; and

h) to perform any other functions assigned to it either by this Protocol or by the Council


This piece is taken from the website of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre.

See on-line at:

Environment Society of Oman – Project Sooty Falcon

September 15, 2011
To survey the sooty falcon population nesting on the islands of the Gulf of Oman and along the coast, to establish a long-term monitoring program and to use the data collected in Oman to understand the conservation status and ecology of sooty falcon. 
  date 2007 – Ongoing
  location Daymaniyat Islands, Fahal Island, Sawadi Islands, coast and islands of Musandam and other coastal sites of north Oman.

Oman is a stronghold for breeding sooty falcons world-wide.  Perhaps as much as 4% of the global population occurs on Fahal Island alone.  Oman also leads the world in research on sooty falcons, with the first surveys being done in 1978.  In recent years an annual effort has begun to study population dynamics and the ecology of sooty falcons.


The Sooty Falcon is a migratory, medium-sized falcon that breeds almost exclusively in north-eastern Africa and Arabia.  It winters in Madagascar.  It is unusual in that it breeds in the height of summer so that it might feed its nestlings on birds migrating to Africa in autumn.  It can breed at very high densities on islands of the Arabian or Red Seas.  In recent years population estimates of sooty falcons have been reduced by 40-fold, and its conservation status is now “Vulnerable”.


Lack of information on this species from across its range undermines our ability to conserve it.  Oman holds enough breeding sooty falcons to allow meaning breeding-ground studies to be undertaken. Understanding gained from these studies will underpin science based conservation efforts.


The first survey of Oman’s Sooty Falcon was conducted in 1978 (Walter 1979) and since 2007, we have established the distribution of the falcon, located and marked nest sites and collected data on reproductive success and diet.  The data sugges about a 15% decline in the Omani population since 1978, and the main cause of this decline is thought to be human disturbance.


Full survey of the Omani population to determine size, geographical extent and reproductive success
Tag falcons with microchip rings; collect blood, feathers and unhatched egg for DNA analysis
Establish regular monitoring of the Omani sooty falcon populations by Omani institutions
Undertake innovative new research to provide information to underpin conservation efforts world-wide
Provide training opportunities for Oman government employees and SQU students
In order to achieve its aims, ESO is working in collaboration with MECA, as well as scientists and conservationists from international organisations


  how you
can help
Arranging logistics for field trips
Fundraising for the exhibition to include printing of photographs and setting up professional photomontage
Design and printing of leaflets and posters
Design and printing of T-shirts / baseball caps / other merchandising


This piece is taken from the website of the Environment Society of Oman.

See on-line at:

Environment Society of Oman – Plastic Bags Campaign

September 15, 2011

After much planning, anticipation and requests from our members, ESO decided to implement an Anti Plastic Bag awareness raising campaign with the slogan:


“No to Plastic Bags For Oman”

Our aim is to raise awareness of the dangers of plastic bag pollution as well as to try and initiate a change in both consumers and retail outlet behaviour. Our end goal is to present the relevant government authorities with enough information and baseline data to be able to regulate the use of plastic bags in Oman.


As a result of our campaign, all partner supermarkets have begun producing their own reusable bags.


The campaign was launched on Oct 25th 2008 and was funded by Oman LNG LLC, to whom we are extremely grateful.


We would also like to thank the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs for their endorsement of the campaign.

Elements include:


Training Retail Staff at Large Supermarkets


This commenced in December 2008 and we have the following supermarkets on board:


Al Fair
Khimji Mart
Sultan Center
Shell Select Shops
Oman Oil Shops
Al MahaSouq Shops

We hope that the supermarkets will ensure the training is properly enforced and a few have already agreed to implementing a policy change within their own companies.

The supermarket launch of the campaign began on Jan 8th 2009 where volunteers and school children were present at 14 locations of our partner supermarkets, giving out reusable bags and information. Staff at the supermarkets will be using their training in future on how to pack bags and asking customers whether they need a plastic bag.

Throughout the month following January 8th, reusuable jute bags were available for a nominal fee of 100bz from these supermarkets and many of the supermarkets have already started to make their own bags for customers to buy and reuse (as ESO is only able to make a certain number for the campaign).  For those interested in purchasing bulk reusable jute bags please contact The Jute Company (


We are unable to reach all the smaller “foodstuff shops” with training and so we will be handing out laminated sheets with facts, statistics and information as well as how best to pack bags and asking customers if they need a plastic bags.


Raising Awareness within Schools

14 private schools were targeted in the Muscat area and all public schools in the Sultanate. ESO prepared presentations and discussion points as well as having displayed posters and other awareness raising materials at the schools.


School children volunteered on January 8th at the supermarkets.

Tour of Oman

We have been traveling around in a branded van to 5 locations and surrounding areas, again giving out reusable bags, merchandise, information and raising awareness through a media campaign.



Green Pace

On February 27th 2009 the Crowne Plaza hosted a family event open to all. Participants used any mode of  non -polluting transport, eg. walk, run, cycle, rollerblade. Over 400 people attended.




This piece is taken from the website of the Environment Society of Oman.

See on-line at: 


Environment Society of Oman – Protected Areas

September 15, 2011

Oryx Sanctuary

Established: 1994
Location: Al Wusta
Area: 22,824.3 km2

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary was formally established by Royal Decree No 4/94. It lies in Al Wusta Region and originally covered an area of 24,785.4 sq km. This vast expanse encompassed a diverse range of ecosystems, with features such as plains, sand dunes and hills. In addition to its topographical diversity, the area is rich in natural and cultural features. It also supports various plant and animal species such as the Arabian Oryx, Nubian Ibex, Caracal, Arabian Gazelle, Houbara Bustard and other animals.

In recognition of its significant scenic and ecological value the Sanctuary was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO in December 1994.

In 2007 the Government reduced the size of the area by 90% due to the dwindling numbers of oryx mainly due to poaching. The area was said to be too large to patrol and manage correctly.

In June 2007 the sanctuary was deleted from the World Heritage List.

For more information on the sanctuary:

Ras al Jinz Turtle Reserve

Established: 1996
Location: Sharqiyah South / Sur
Area: 2,120 km2

Oman’s Turtle Reserve combines the previously proposed Ras Al Hadd National Scenic Reserve and the Ras al Jinz National Nature Reserve and encloses 120 sq. km. (12,000 ha.) of beaches, shorelands, adjacent sea and seabed and two khawrs.

Approximately 13,000 Green Turtles nest on the complex of beaches included in the Reserve. The beaches, which attract the greatest number of nesting Green Turtles in the Sultanate, are of national, regional and global importance for the survival of this endangered species, and form the principal justification for the establishment of the reserve.

The turtles of the area are threatened to an increasing degree by human activities. Nets and boats on the nesting beaches interfere with the nesting activities and nearshore nets block the access to nesting beaches. Camping on or near the beaches cause a disturbance and the village lights attract the nestlings.

The Reserve includes a great number and variety of archaeological sites of significant importance. The research on these sites and the protection of such sites from future development needs to be addressed.

The two khawrs and the cliffs along the coast are important bird areas and the protection of these as well as the limited stand of mangroves in Khawr Al Jaramah is important.

Oman LNG has provided RO 1 million in funding to the government in order to build a visitor’s centre acting as an entrance to the reserve. The Centre is due to open in late 2008.

Daymaniyat Island Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Batinah
Area: 203 km2

The Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve encloses 203 sq. km. (20,300 ha.) of sea and seabed and includes the nine islands, rocks and reefs and offshore shoals situated 16 – 18 kilometres off the Seeb-Barka coast.

The islands are an outstanding conservation area of national and regional importance. They have the highest density of nesting seabirds and the only known Osprey nesting sites in the capital area. They also shelter the largest nesting population of Hawksbill Turtles in the country. These are relatively unspoiled islands of great scenic beauty offering a living natural museum, including nesting Green Turtles and Sooty Falcons and a variety of reefs with high coral diversity.

Both the islands and the reefs are important to the mainland based fisherman and people from Muscat, for fishing and recreational diving. This is the most important site for wildlife conservation in the capital area and should be managed to retain its values for wildlife, recreation and fisheries.

Following a baseline survey of the Islands in April 2007 ESO found that the coral reefs had increased in size significantly (click here to download report ). In June 2007, the Sultanate was hit by Cyclone Gonu and unfortunately much of this coral growth was destroyed. ESO is now in the process of conducting a “post-Gonu” assessment of the reefs.

For more information click here.

(Information adapted from Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs)

Saleel Nature Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Sharqiyah South / Kamil Wo Wafi
Area: 220 km2

Saleel Nature Reserve (protected under Royal Decree Decree No. 50 / 97 on 28 / 6 / 97) lies in the eastern region of Oman between Badyiah and Sur. The 220 square kilometers consists of a series of mountainous and rocky plains as well as some valleys and high hills. The Reserve is home to deer and wild cat and some local and migratory birds.

Samhan Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Taqah, Mirbat, Sadah
Area: 4,500 km2

The Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve in the Dhofar region of the Sultanate of Oman encompasses a track of limestone highlands, rising steeply from the coastal plain and sloping more gently towards the north. The Jabal, or mountain, has a 1,500 m escarpment which overlooks the Zalawt foothills and the plain of the Marbat – Sadh peninsula. Jabal Samhan Nature Reserve consists of an array of barren, scalloped peaks separated by deep wadis and canyons. These deep wadis contain rare and unique plants such as Caralluma sp. and Anogeissus dhofarica. Most of the wadis contain water pools where the rare wild animals like the Leopard, Ibex, Gazelle, Striped Hyena, Foxes and Wolves come to drink.


The coast between Ras Nuss and Ras Qanawt is dominated by rugged steeply shelving volcanic jabal, interrupted by several medium sized beaches. Crayfish and abalone occur in the sublittoral zone and good populations of Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest on the beaches. The Reserve also includes Jabal Habrer which catches the influence of the Khareef (monsoon). As a result a small area of Anogeissus dhofarica has developed and also present is the only location of Pappea capensis on the Arabian peninsula.

Khawr Qurom Sageir / Kabeir


Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Salalah
Area: 0.014 km2

Small (Qurom Khawr) is located at a distance of about 10 kilometres west of Salalah. 300 m long and 50 meters wide, it is almost rectangular in shape. The trees of Crimea (Platoon alartdiat) is dominant, and is limited to the sides of the khawr. There are also Phragmites australis as well as Cresa cretia, Aleuropus, lagopoides, Sorobolus virgineus and Alrsasiat. Due to overgrazing, the area has been fenced and since the establishment of the fence the trees have started to recover. The Large (Qurom Khawr) is also located in the city of Salalah. The vegetation surrounding Khawr is in very bad condition due to continual camel feeding and over-grazing.

Khawr Baleed Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Salalah
Area: 1 km2

Khawr Baleed was proposed as a National Nature Reserve by the IUCN in 1986 and then again in 1990. A concept development plan was completed in 1995 suggesting the establishment of an Archaeological Park. This park is located within the municipality of Salalah in the Governorate of Dhofar, Sultanate of Oman. The park contains the archaeological remains of Al Baleed, an important medieval trading city. Its site is of great importance in the history of Oman.


The establishment of Al Baleed Archaeological park has three fundamental goals. First, and most important, it must provide for the preservation of the natural resources. Second, it aims to develop an education program to inform visitors of the significance of Al Baleed in the history of Oman. Third, it should seek to increase tourism to the site.

Khawr Dahareez Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Salalah
Area: 0.600 km2

Khawr Dahareez on the eastern outskirts of Salalah was proposed as a National Scenic Reserve by the IUCN in 1986 and as a Nature reserve by the Planning Committee for Development and Environment in the Governorate of Dhofar in 1993.


This khawr is an important refuge for migrating birds. The invasion of alien plant species such as Prosopis juliflora is the most prominent and visible threat at the moment.

Khawr Sawli Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Mirbat
Area: 1 km2

Khawr Sawli is located 30 km east of Salalah. It was fenced in 1992 due to reports of camel deaths at this khawr. The fenced area included some prominent archaeological sites. Investigations reveal a great diversity of fish and birds in Khawr Sawli.


The vegetation of the khawr is in a very poor condition due to extensive grazing by camels that enter through the open gates and broken fences. Quarries of limestone have occurred on the west of the khawr and plots for limestone quarries have been allocated to the north-west of the khawr. These activities are incompatible with the accepted norms for tourism and has degraded the tourism potential.

Khawr Taqah Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Taqah
Area: 1.07 km2

Khawr Taqah is located immediately west of the town of Taqah about 30 km west of Salalah. This khawr, with a large deep freshwater body fed by a spring, has a permanent connection to the sea and an outflow of 140 l/min. The khawr has a high diversity in bird and fish life.

Khawr Rawri Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Mirbat – Taqah
Area: 8.2 km2

Khawr Rawri is the largest of the proclaimed khawrs along the Salalah coast measuring 2.5 km long and up to 400 m wide. Khawr Rawri provides an important habitat for birds, fish and a representative sample of the vegetation of the gravel plains under the influence of the Khareef.


Khawr Rawri is better known for the very important archaeological site on its banks, Samharam.

Khawr Awqad Reserve

Established: 1997
Location: Dhofar / Salalah
Area: 0.016 km2

Khawr Awqad is situated in Salalah and is under increasing threat to become a waste dumping place in the near future. The khawr was not zoned as a conservation area in the Subregional Land Use Plans and it was not included in the IUCN proposals for protection status. The increasing demand for land to expand housing in Salalah will gradually threaten the existence of this khawr. The khawr is an important bird site and also an important source of fresh water for the irrigation plots adjacent to it.


This piece is taken from the website of the Environment Society of Oman.

See on-line at:

Environment Society of Oman – Terrestrial

September 14, 2011

Geology and Topography


The north of Oman is dominated by the Hajar Range, a chain of rugged limestone and dolomite mountains, stretching from Musandam to Sur and rising to just over 3,000m at the highest point of the Jebel al Akhdhar. They are flanked by lower mountains of ophiolite, an igneous rock originating from upheavals of oceanic crust.

Along the north-east of the range is the alluvial plain of the Batinah region, whilst to the west and south gravel plains stretch to the southern governorate of Dhofar.


These plains cover some 80% of the surface of Oman and border the Arabian Sea. In the west the extensive sand dunes of the Rub’ al Khali stretch beyond the border with Saudi Arabia.


The separate Sharqiyah Sands, covering some 9,300 sq km, lie to the east, near the southern extemity of the Hajar range. In the Governorate of Dhofar the gravel plains rise southwards to the escarpment of the Dhofar mountains, reaching 1,800 m and comprising mainly tertiary rocks, including calcareous shale, limestone, and massive gypsum.


With the exception of the mountain regions and Dhofar, the climate is hot and dry, with annual rainfall less than 100 mm. Summer temperatures can reach as high as 54°C with mean temperatures in Muscat of 33°C. Winter temperatures are mild and pleasant ranging between 15°C – 23°C.


The Hajar range attracts higher but sporadic rainfall, more often in the winter months, but also from occasional thunderstorms in the summer.

The climate of Dhofar is dominated by the south-west monsoon, which brings dense mists and some rain to the escarpment and the Salalah plain during the months of July, August and September, resulting in a belt of grass and woodland in the mountain region, densest on the steep slopes facing south to the Arabian Sea.


The remainder of the country is arid with sporadic winter rain and occasional thunderstorms in the summer. Rainfall is higher in the Hajar range, bringing more vegetation, though limited by lack of soil in the rugged terrain.


Fog moisture, especially in the spring and autumn, benefits the vegetation of the central plains of the Jiddat al Harasis.


The flora of the Sultanate reflects the influence of Iran in the north, with an increasing influence of African species from the Eastern Hajar mountains southwards to Dhofar. Of approximately 1,200 species found in Oman, some 87 are endemic or near-endemic – occurring only in Oman or shared with its immediate neighbours. Of these, 75 are endemic to Dhofar, mainly found in the mountains within the monsoon belt.


Some 86 mammal species or sub-species occur in Oman offering a wide variety of wildlife including some endangered, endemic Arabian animals such as the Arabian Tahr (Wa’al al Arabi), Arabian Oryx and the Arabian Leopard.


Of the regionally endemic large mammals, the Arabian Tahr – Wa’al al Arabi (Hemitragus jayakari), classified as ‘endangered’, occurs only in the northern mountains including those of the UAE. The ‘critically endangered’ Arabian leopard (Panthera pardus nimr), a regionally endemic subspecies, can be found in the Dhofar mountains.


Over 480 species have been recorded in Oman, the majority being migrants travelling seasonally between northern Asia some as far north as the Arctic, and Africa. Around 100 species are breeding residents.

Other Terrestrial Fauna

Many species of reptiles, arthropods, amphibians, insects and lower order fauna occur throughout Oman. A visit to the Oman Natural History Museum at the Ministry of Heritage and Culture is strongly recommended for a closer look at the full range of Oman’s biological diversity.

The Landscape

Oman’s natural and cultural landscapes are famous for their astonishing beauty, from dramatic high peaks and canyons, ancient oasis settlements with their traditional forts and houses, dense monsoon forests, barren gravel wildernesses, sand seas furrowed by high dunes, to coastal cliffs and fjords. To geologists they tell the story of millions of years of Oman’s history because, unlike temperate countries where rock formations are mostly covered by soil and vegetation, the geology of Oman is visible for all to see.

In today’s crowded industrial world, wildernesses have a special appeal to the international tourist, many of whom wish to go to places where they will not be among crowds of other tourists: Oman is able to offer this experience as well as the more conventional types of holiday.


The landscape is the foundation of responsible tourism, a sustainable way to support the economy of rural areas, through employment. It contains all Oman’s terrestrial species, so care of the landscape helps to protect what is within it. Aside from tourism, a beautiful landscape sustains the quality of life for all those who live and work within it, encouraging their sense of ownership and pride.

The Mountainous North


Wadis (valleys) dissect the mountains of northern and central Oman and provide the only means of access to many areas. While most wadis are seasonal, some have a constant flow of water, attracting settlement and wildlife. Red Foxes, mountain gazelle, hares (which include a race unique to Oman), small rodents and even wolves may still be found, although the latter are more likely to be seen further south.


Other creatures to watch out for include the Blue-Headed Agamid Lizards, ‘water snakes’ (most commonly, racers) and Arabian Toads. Bats can be found in many of the extensive cave systems and birds of prey such as Egyptian Vultures and, for the lucky, Golden Eagles, circle above magnificent mountain panoramas.

Breathtaking views and a remarkable juniper forest are to be found at the summit of Jabal Shams (Sun Mountain), Arabia’s highest peak standing at 3000 metres. One of the few places in the peninsula where snowfall is not unexpected in winter months. Most importantly, this region is home to the nimble-footed Arabian Tahr (Wa’al), the rare and shy goat-like animal confined and unique to this small, mountainous part of the world.


The deserts of Oman vary from the rolling sand seas of the Sharqiyah, with classic dunes of rich gold, to the flat stony Jiddat al Harasis in central Oman and the Rub al-Khali or ‘Empty Quarter’ further south, where individual mountains of sand rise from a flat desert and stretch endlessly across the border into Saudi Arabia. However, far from being empty, the desert is host to a surprising amount of wildlife. Caracal Lynx, Sand Foxes and Wild Sand Cats, with hair-covered feet that help provide grip in soft sand, are some of the larger predators. Rheem Gazelle, Arabia’s largest gazelle, also seem to prefer sandy regions.

On rocky outcrops, such as the Huqf escarpment to the east of the Jiddat al Harasis plains, live Nubian Ibex. They are also found in more mountainous areas. The males, in particular, with their magnificent horns, are an impressive sight. The desert provides habitat too for skinks, lizards and geckos and their more deadly cousins, such as the Saw-Scales or Carpet Viper and the Horned Adder. A host of small rodents survive the desert heat despite the high metabolic rates of small mammals. A number of species of gerbils, jirds, jerboas, mice, shrews and rats have all adapted to life under harsh conditions.


Flocks of Coronetted, Chestnut-Bellied, Spotted and Lichtenstein’s Sandgrouse can be regularly seen soaking their naturally engineered, water bearing breast feathers in precious watering holes and transporting the stored water to ground nests some distance away.


Precambrian basement sediments formed the Dhofar mountains in the far south of Oman. The annual monsoons brought by the khareef (south-west winds), between early July and the end of August, create lush green hillsides and cool temperatures along the coast and mountain regions. Immediately behind the mountains the desert heat continues to scorch the earth. This seasonal transition creates a haven for wildlife as well as spectacular mountain drives and hikes.


The best time to visit is September.


The capital of Dhofar is Salalah, known throughout Arabia as ‘The Garden City’ – relaxed, cool and humid and rife with banana, coconut, sugarcane and papaya plantations. Beyond the plains of Salalah where frankincense trees grow, rise the wooded hillsides of Jabal Qara. The vegetation that clads the southern mountains is unique in Arabia. The dominant and endemic Anogeissus dhofarica was only scientifically described in 1979. Among the vegetation are trees more commonly associated with Africa and Asia, such as the magnificent baobab.

The desert rose is an attractive and distinctive plant which was used for medicinal purposes by the Jibbali people of the Dhofar hills. During the monsoon great waterfalls tumble over limestone cliffs into the sea several hundred feet below, and springs such as those at Ayn Razat and Ayn Jarsis bubble with freshwater. Some pools remain year round in many of the wadi beds, such as Wadi Darbat, offering a constant supply of water for resident and passing wildlife.


Even where the greenery ends, wildlife thrives. Leopard, Caracal, Hyena, Wolf and Ratel all find territories along with many others. Hedgehogs and the nocturnal vegetarian Porcupines leave evidence of their presence with a handful of shed quills, and birds pass through in their thousands.

Where wadis reach the sea, lagoons (khors), form along the coast, acting as a focal point for wildlife, especially birds. Reeds and reedmace typically line the landward rims of the khors while the salt tolerant mangrove trees spread seaward. Some of the more spectacular birds to frequent Oman are to be found in khors such as the stately Flamingo, colourful ducks, storks, stilts, plovers, sandpipers, egrets, herons and the Glossy Ibis.

To the north-east of Salalah, is a beautiful sand beach 30 km in length that sweeps the bay forming the mouth of Oman’s largest and probably most spectacular wadi – Wadi Shuwaymiyah. The wadi forms a huge snaking canyon with dramatic vertical cliffs of white limestone. Long fingers of porous travertine form stalactites along overhanging cliff edges and deep pools of sweet water are surrounded by vegetation. Breathtaking scenery and wildlife is to be found in this remote haven of natural beauty.


This piece is taken from the website of the Environment Society of Oman.

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