Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Strengthening Capacity to Manage Ecosystems Sustainably for Human Well-Being

Biodiversity, Local Knowledge, and Poverty Alleviation: Sinai Sub Global Assessment


Sinai, the site of the assessment, is located between the Nile Valley in Africa and West Asia.

Lead institution

Environmental Impact Assessment Unit, Faculty of Agriculture, Suez Canal University, Egypt.

Contact information:

  • Mohamed Tawfic Ahmed
    Professor of Environmental Science
    Head of Environmental Impact Assessment Unit
    Suez Canal University
    Tel: 020 64 381860
    Fax: 020 64 346013 

Focal issues

The assessment will have particular emphasis on several issues, including:

  • The expected changes that newcomers would have on the socio-economic fabric of the region
  • The effect that population increase would put on fragile components of the ecosystem
  • The effect of a substantial increase on water demand from already insufficient water resources
  • The influence of urbanization and tourism development on wild life and biodiversity.

The assessment has the overarching goal of developing sustainable and participatory approaches to biodiversity management and conservation based on Bedouins’ technologies and knowledge within agricultural systems at the community and landscape levels. A major understanding and commitment of the project that it is only by providing the livelihood that the project could introduce biodiversity enrichment and management approaches. Hence, an important emphasis of the Sinai assessment is to provide inputs and technical assistance contributing to improve the livelihoods of Bedouins.

Ecosystem services being assessed

  • Provisioning Services: water, fireweeds, fodder for livestock.
  • Supporting Services: biodiversity and biomass production.
  • Regulatory Services: soil protection, climate regulation.
  • Cultural Services: recreational, ecotourism, and cultural

Project outputs

Some outputs include:

  • Formation of Bedouin Biodiversity Association: The establishment of Farmer Association is an important aspect for the capacity building strategy. Associations are an effective platform for future development, and provide an effective sustainable outcome of the project. Associations also enable Bedouins to interact with each other and share observations. Working with associations is a much more effective way to expand and sustain project impacts.
  • Publication for the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: To prepare and edit a local book that sums up experience gained with special reference to local knowledge and its use in promoting biodiversity.

Key features of assessment

Sinai is a unique ecosystem and cultural heritage spot that is currently under pressure from the influx of people into the region. Pressure is currently felt from the migration of farmers and associated land use changes. Urbanization has been shown to alter land patterns and can have a strong impact on the remarkable diversity of the Sinai. An increased number of people will also put more demand on the already limited water supply of the area. This population pressure is expected to intensify as the intention to develop a tourism industry becomes stronger. Thus, it is critical to perform an assessment of the ecosystem and determine its carrying capacity and instill in people the need for sustainable development.

Sinai is land bridge connecting Africa and Asia and is thus a very diverse place. The range of vertebrates is exceptionally large; and because there are so few of each species, protection is crucial. The vegetative diversity of the Sinai is significantly high; there are about 1,000 species, of which 270 are indigenous and not known in any other part of Egypt. The diversity in Sinai also encompasses the unique blend of culture, norms and traditions highlighted by Bedouins. The assessment will place special emphasis on using traditional knowledge as well as focusing on gender issues.

Timeframe, budget

The expected time needed for the assessment is 4 years. The current project budget is 150,000 US Dollars. The project is expected to get an extra 100,000 in the near future. The University of Suez Canal is going to contribute with in kind contributions. In addition, there is a possibility that the Maadi Modern Academy in Egypt will help to fund the project.