Muscat: The Royal Decree issued on Tuesday on the establishment of the National Natural Park Reserve in Governorate of Musandam, comes as an embodiment of the rich geographical diversity, natural environment and tourism potentials that are peculiar to the Governorate of Musandam.
In a statement, the Environment Authority valued the issuance of the Royal Decree, affirming that it will soon start working to put it into effect in coordination with the relevant authorities and will strive to ensure optimal management of the reserve by issuing the rules for managing it in accordance to the dimensions and borders stipulated by the Royal Decree.
A survey conducted by the Environment Authority in cooperation with the Office of Musandam Governor, indicated that the natural reserve will have a total area of 1,149.40 sq km and it comprises nine offshore islands as well as shallow coasts and shoals situated away from the coasts and bays. These are pristine islands of great national and regional significance. The islands are also safe nesting places for many species of sea and wild birds. The islands consist of limestone outcrops and ancient coral reefs and include steep rocky cliffs.
The surveys carried out by the Environment Agency showed that there are various types of coral reefs, algae and seaweeds in the waters surrounding the islands, which attract fish and other marine creatures.
The surveys carried out by the Environment Authority showed that green turtles and giraffes also live in the area for nesting and feeding. This is an important site for the protection of wildlife due to the abundance of fish and the diversity of coral reefs. Diving and fishing are commonly practiced activities which require good management to maintain their value for wildlife and recreational life.
The surveys also detected the presence of wild animals such as hare, hedgehog, lynx, mountain fox, red fox and wildcat and many reptiles such as lizards and snakes.
The preliminary field survey of wild plants in the reserve indicated the presence of more than 200 species of perennial, annual and seasonal plants some of which are classified as rare and threatened with extinction.
The marine islands in Musandam Governorate include varying vegetation cover with characteristics of coral reef groups and marine plants.
The islands are separate from the mainland and there are no wild mammals on the protected islands except for rodents.
Seabirds are predominant on the islands where the presence of thousands of them turns these islands into wonderful scenery especially in Umm Al Tair island. Sea snakes are sometimes sighted away from the shore and few green turtles and porcupines nest in the sandy beaches of the islands. Various species of marine mammals like the bottlenose dolphin and the local species of the common dolphin, spinner dolphin and the humpback whale, can also be sighted on the islands.