Saudi prince issues royal order for huge nature reserve
The Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has ordered the creation of a new royal nature reserve across three administrative regions as part of a push to improve natural resources and quality of life in the kingdom.
Imam Faisal bin Turki Royal Reserve will cover over 30,000 sq km of coastline, peaks and deserts, making it the third-largest reserve in Saudi Arabia. The area is already recognised as supporting the widest variety of plant species in the country, alongside a wealth of other wildlife.
Arabian Sunbird is one of hundreds of bird species found in the new royal reserve (Duha Alhashimi).
The area is now one of eight nature reserves run by the Council of Royal Reserves, which is chaired by bin Salman. As well as safeguarding biodiversity, the new reserve contains over 100 'heritage villages'.
The Crown Prince said: "These reserves are important contributors to national development, in a way solving numerous environmental challenges experienced worldwide."
Saudi Vision 2030 get the goal of enhancing the county's natural environment by preserving habitat, reintroducing key species and combating desertification.
There has been a push for ecotourism in the royal reserves, where hunting is discouraged and logging is banned. The land is classed as the public property of the nation's citizens, with royal reserves now amounting to almost 15% of land and sea in Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi Green Initiative set the goal of protecting 30% of land and marine areas in the country by 2030.
Mohammed bin Salman added: "We are determined to enhance the quality of life in Saudi Arabia by developing natural resources, improving infrastructure, promoting sustainability of non-oil economic resources, and increasing job and investment opportunities within the Kingdom."