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Saudi Arabia’s Alula showcased at ecological restoration conference in Darwin

Saudi Arabia’s Alula showcased at ecological restoration conference in Darwin
September 21, 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) will be showcasing its ambitious regreening and rewilding projects as a Premium Sponsor of the 10th World Conference on Ecological Restoration to be held in Darwin from 26th to 30th September 2023.

RCU was established by royal decree in July 2017 to preserve and develop AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in north-west Saudi Arabia.

Deep-rooted community involvement is fundamental to RCU's ecological restoration goals, with 154 Rangers from the AlUla community having been trained and deployed to work across AlUla's network of nature reserves. By entrusting the land's guardianship to those who hold it dear and connecting local wisdom with modern practices, RCU is helping to shape international best practices for protected area management.

RCU has successfully integrated over 100,000 seedlings into the wild with a 90% survival rate, with plans to introduce a further 400,000 by 2024 as it continues its drive to expand green areas, leading the conversation around best practices in eco-restoration.

RCU's participation as a Premium Sponsor of the event aims to amplify its transformative efforts in AlUla, highlighting its emerging leadership role in the sustainable conservation of natural and cultural landscapes and the rejuvenation of arid, degraded ecosystems.

The importance of this year's event underscores the legacy of SER's World Conferences; serving as a meeting point for experts and scholars, SER events provide vital avenues for knowledge exchange on the latest trends in restoration science, practice, and policy. With the 10th World Conference marking its first in-person gathering since 2019, RCU's contribution to AlUla's comprehensive regeneration will be a major highlight of the event.

As the custodian of AlUla, a region with a unique ecological footprint, RCU is spearheading responsible and sustainable development at a pivotal moment for global biodiversity. It has established more than 11,000 sq. km of protected areas, totalling more than 50% of land in AlUla County, and launched impressive nursery operations that prioritise native flora, such as peregrina and acacia. By 2035, RCU plans to deliver the ecological restoration of at least 65,000 hectares.

Within AlUla's Sharaan Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 1,200 sq km, a 100-hectare restoration pilot site has become a hallmark of RCU's ecological restoration strategy. By taking an approach that harnesses natural regeneration, RCU has successfully integrated more than 100,000 native seedlings into the wild with an extraordinary 90% survival rate, a remarkable feat in such a harsh climate.

"Restoration efforts in the desert landscapes of AlUla are shining examples of how determined action can yield concrete change," shared Dr Stephen Browne, Vice President of Wildlife and Natural Heritage at RCU. "RCU's achievements, such as reintroducing native animal species to their natural habitat and rejuvenating native flora, offer the world a message of hope, resilience, and collaboration. Our sponsorship and participation at SER2023 is not only about highlighting our milestones; it is about setting international benchmarks for others to follow."

Beyond its tangible ecological impact, RCU's work emphasises a broader narrative that links nature and culture. A recent RCU study found native flora species are flourishing in 'conservation islands' at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hegra, drawing a vivid picture of nature's resilience. RCU envisions AlUla as a blueprint for the protection and rejuvenation of arid ecosystems.

Aligning its on-ground efforts with global ambitions, RCU has strengthened its work through strategic partnerships. Its association with entities like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) underscores its commitment to collaboration. This accentuates RCU's growing prominence in the eco-restoration field and conveys a clear message to the world: restoration is a collective mission, and every initiative is vital to saving our environment.

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to preserve and develop AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in north-west Saudi Arabia.

Images from top: AlUla oasis; AlUla Ecological Restoration in Sharaan Nature Reserve; RCU Plant Nursery

Related Articles

8th June 2023 - Construction begins on AlUla’s Sharaan Resort and International Summit Centre

25th May 2023 - Azulik AlUla desert eco-resort to be developed in Saudi Arabia

15th March 2023 - 45-metre suspended ladder and zip line attraction opened at Saudi Arabia’s AlUla heritage site

2nd January 2023 - Saudi Arabia’s AlUla becomes second naming rights partner of Australia’s World Tour cycling team

17th August 2022 - Royal Commission for AlUla welcomes Arabian Leopard Cubs

7th December 2021 - Saudi Arabia partners with France to host Villa Hegra at AlUla as hub for tourism training and cultural exchange

21st June 2021 - Ecological protection boosts visitation to scenic lake in south west China

17th November 2017 - Oman Botanic Garden to become the world’s largest ecological oasis

22nd February 2012 - Major project to rejuvenate Abel Tasman National Park ecology

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