Biodiversity, Local Knowledge, and Poverty Alleviation: Sinai Sub Global
Sinai, the site of the assessment, is located between the Nile Valley in Africa
and West Asia.
Environmental Impact Assessment Unit, Faculty of Agriculture, Suez Canal
Mohamed Tawfic Ahmed
Professor of Environmental Science
Head of Environmental Impact Assessment Unit
Suez Canal University
Tel: 020 64 381860
Fax: 020 64 346013
The assessment will have particular emphasis on several issues, including:
The expected changes that newcomers would have on the socio-economic fabric of
The effect that population increase would put on fragile components of the
The effect of a substantial increase on water demand from already insufficient
The influence of urbanization and tourism development on wild life and
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
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.
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.