Environmental protection and natural resources are the integral parts of Oman Vision 2040 priorities. They help to achieve sustainable development goals with an assurance that economic growth does not occur at the expense of the country’s natural environment.
The Sultanate, represented by the Environment Authority, recently submitted its sixth national report on biodiversity to the United Nations Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity
Although Oman has signed a number of international climate treaties, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and ratified in 1994, the domestic inclusion of climate-change policies alongside environmental policies was mainly triggered by the devastating Cyclone Gonu that lashed the country in 2007.
Following this, the Sultanate has adopted a number of steps to preserve its national wealth by enacting laws and regulations that protect natural habitats and wildlife and guarantee the right of all generations to benefit from natural resources in a balanced and equitable manner.
Forests and fields in the country are located on the coasts (the Crimean trees) and in the mountains of the Al Alanan fields in the Al Hajar Al Gharbi mountains and the Al Sughut forests in the south.
Forests cover about 20 square kilometers and fields 13,000 square kilometers in Oman.
Mountains form a large proportion of the Omani geographical environment, and plant and animal environments vary in these mountains; The Hajar Mountains located in northern Oman, extend from the Musandam peninsula in the north to Ras Al Hadd in the south-eastern province, they are considered the highest mountains, rising about 3,000 meters above sea level. In the south, the Dhofar Mountains range from east to west.
Samhan Mountain, which includes the Jabal Samhan and Jabal Al Qamr Nature Reserves is the most important mountain in the region. The maximum height of this range is 2.5 thousand meters.
Omani’s inhabited environment varies in the mountains.
According to Oman’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the government seeks to create all the conditions under which Omani people can integrate the life around the mountains, especially in the light of modern development.
“This has contributed to varying degrees in changing the customs and practices of the Sultanate. But the life of people in the mountains of Oman is based on traditions and practices throughout the history of Oman”, points out the report.
The mountain environment, according to the report, still retains its beauty and characteristics, despite the features of change, comprehensive development, progress and modernization witnessed by Oman in all regions of the Sultanate.
The Sultanate has already unveiled a number of protected areas including desert reserves, some of them freely and others in mountainous areas with difficult geological terrain, representing 3.77 per cent of the total area of the Sultanate.
The Qurum Nature Reserve, located in the heart of Muscat Governorate, was declared the first protected site for Ramsar in the Sultanate, with a total area of 80 hectares of Avicennia Marina forests, the only existing species that can adapt to the climate of the Omani environment. The total area covered by the Crimean trees in the Sultanate is about 1,030 hectares.
The Wetlands Reserve in the Mahut province of the Al Wusta governorate is one of the top 25 sites of international importance to migratory birds during the winter in the Middle East, within the migration path of Asia and East Africa, with an estimated area of 2,621 square kilometers, and is in the process of being announced as a second Ramsar site in the Sultanate.
The Omani Action Plan to Combat Desertification and Land Degradation was initiated for the development of a natural resource registry for the Sultanate containing water sources, vegetation cover and soil.
It also implemented several projects to alleviate land degradation and combat desertification, in which many scientific and research institutions participated to ensure quality of implementation and access to reference information at the national level.
The most important projects implemented are the fog harvesting project in Dhofar Governorate, the draft land degradation map, and the land rehabilitation of areas affected by desertification factors. These projects identified degraded areas and lands prone to degradation, the development of a spatial database and a monitoring system based on high-resolution satellite data.
The Sultanate is enforcing the laws and regulations related to the protection of wildlife and endangered species. It seeks to enforce more strict rules and regulations for the protection of wildlife and endangered species and prepared national protection strategies and plans, such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the National Strategy for Economic Botany species.
It also issued the national Red Lists for endangered species, and established several governmental authorities and research centers for the implementation of strategies and projects related to the continuous preservation of endangered species.
The Sultanate deployed many efforts for the protection of threatened fauna, as it implemented protection programs and declared many sites as reserves for the aforementioned species.