Saudi Arabia is continuing to tackle desertification by expanding its green space, especially in its protected nature reserves.
On Wednesday, the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority and the National Center for Vegetation Cover signed an MoU to develop vegetation cover and protect diversity in the reserve.
Mohammed Al-Shaalan, CEO of the ITBA authority, said the MoU is a continuation of the authority's efforts to preserve vegetation cover so that the reserve becomes an international attraction and an ecotourism destination rich in heritage and nature, preserving these with the participation of the local community and strengthening ecotourism. He said that the signing of the MoU comes as the "Saudi Green Initiative Forum" and the "Middle East Green Initiative Summit" are held later this month.
Located north of the Kingdom's capital, the reserve was established in 2018 by royal decree. The area covers 91,500 sq km and is home to more than 120 different types of flora and more than 60 types of fauna such as the Arabian wolf and spiny tail lizards.
Last March, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched initiatives that aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region and plant 50 billion trees in the world's largest afforestation project, which will be double the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region, the second biggest regional afforestation initiative.
Dr. Khaled bin Abdullah Al-Abdulkader, CEO of NCVC, said that the MoU aims for cooperation with the ITBA authority to cooperate in developing vegetation cover, preserving plant diversity in the reserve and involving the local community in programs that help adopt behavior that promotes environmental sustainability, and encouraging investment founded on the international principles of ecotourism to achieve optimal management and operation of plant resources.