Riyadh: A number of achievements that contributed to national environmental goals marked 2022 as a strategic turning point for the King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority.
Nasser Al-Nasser, its acting CEO, told Arab News: "The authority has made structured efforts to develop the national reserve in line with the best international standards and management practices, and in accordance with Saudi Vision 2030’s sustainable environmental goals.”
The authority is the third body in the Kingdom to be awarded membership of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The authority’s environmental sustainability team also obtained the union’s Global and Regional Red List Assessor certification “in recognition of its efforts in preserving natural wealth, restoring ecological balance, and empowering and engaging the local community in wildlife conservation and protection.”
The royal reserve was established in 2018 to preserve vulnerable and endangered plant and animal species. Located in Riyadh, it includes the Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs and Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km.
The royal reserve is linked administratively to the Royal Reserves Council, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Al-Nasser added: “Inspired by the ambitious environmental goals of Saudi Vision 2030 and driven by the Saudi Green Initiative, we are committed to preserving, developing, and sustaining our ecology in the best ways possible.
“Our strategy focuses on wildlife restoration and conservation initiatives, transforming visitors’ outdoor experience and engaging all stakeholders to promote sustainable environmental development.”
The government’s Expenditure and Projects Efficiency Authority has listed the reserve as one of its 75 best entities for the second successive year.
The reserve authority has planted 1.1 million trees in Rawdat Tinhat and Rawdat Al-Khafs to improve air quality, control dust and sand storms, combat desertification, and reduce temperatures.
Contributing to increasing vegetation cover and rehabilitating degraded lands and wildlife habitats, the authority cleared more than 17 million kg of waste through its Breathe campaign, in collaboration with the local community, teams of volunteers and environmental organizations.
Some 3 million kg of plastic, 618,000 kg of rubber, 36,000 kg of metal, 81,000 kg of wood, and 13.5 million kg of general refuse were also sorted and cleared from the reserve.
With a focus on biodiversity and in an attempt to maintain ecological balance through rewilding, the authority released 94 species back into the wilderness, including the Arabian oryx, Arabian sand gazelle, and birds such as sandgrouse and houbara bustards.
It also launched a service for issuing licenses for apiaries and beekeepers on World Bee Day, while engaging the local community as part of its strategy for certain projects.
More than 40 job opportunities were made available to local youth within the KARNR Rangers team following an intensive training program that equipped them with the necessary knowledge, skills and tools. The authority also carried out 15 initiatives to raise awareness among school students within the region.
The royal national reserve launched its own team, organizing seven activities that brought together more than 1,100 male and female volunteers.
Al-Nasser said that it was “part of efforts to raise awareness of the importance of protecting natural wealth.”