Mon, 06 Aug 2018 - 01:18 GMT
Mon, 06 Aug 2018 - 01:18 GMT
CAIRO – 6 August 2018: Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad revealed on the margins of the annual meetings of the African Caucus for the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the Ministry of Environment is preparing to offer 30 nature reserves to the right of use for 5 to 10 years.
Fouad noted that the Ministry will start the offer by nature reserves of Nabq and Wadi Degla, noting that the offer will first be presented for local companies; foreign firms will be included at a further stage.
This offer aims to develop the infrastructure of the reserves to create value add and encourage investments in this field, the minister said, adding that Egypt is considered to be one of the least countries in the world spending on garbage.
She also revealed that Egypt spends $3 per citizen monthly on garbage collection and transport, compared to $7 in other countries, pointing out that amendments are being made to the current Environment Law to be presented to the House of Representatives soon.
Egypt owns 30 nature reserves, covering 15 percent of its total land.
Law No. 102 of 1983 protects natural resources and Egypt’s biological diversity to maintain an environmental balance. The law was reaffirmed by Law no. 4 of 1994.
Previous statements on investments in protectorates
In a previous Ministry statement, Khaled Fahmy, former Minister of Environment, had said that the Ministry has developed plans to sustainably develop natural protectorate, explaining that the aforementioned plan focuses on supporting the environment, keeping tabs on climate change and supporting visitors to enjoy the protectorates to the highest of levels. This plan, Fahmy has explained, will increase management development at the nature reserves and their resources.
Fahmy had also pointed out that the Petrified Forest Area in Maadi and Wadi Degla were involved in the two-stage development, which cost around LE 75 million, of which LE 68 was allocated to the Petrified Forest.
The former Minister also clarified that the law on protectorates stipiulates that no protectorate is publically declared except aftet it is presented to the Cabinet in order to avoid overlap of management and ownership; this will ensure that all sides are better connected and work together better.
During the statement, the Minister has also called on Scouts to help promote the protectorates through social media, saying, “We want you with us.” Protectorates, for Fahmy, were important treasures that needed to be utilized.
In comments, Fahmy had also pointed out that sustaining the environment would be achieved best through economic prosperity and creating investment opportunities and projects that are able to sustain protectorates. “Investing in protectorates is our hope for a practical solution that sustains protectorates and protects the environment,” he had said.
Building on the work of Fahmy, Fouad took the move and put all of Egypt’s 30 protectorates in the market for investors to enjoy the right of use within them.
Given the rise of the now trendy environmental tourism, there is a need for Egypt to keep up with this trend and put itself on the environmental tourism map by finding innovative projects and entertainment opportunities for it tourisms.
The Ministry has previously explained that by nature there are different sides to environmental tourism, suggesting that the private sector will be able to develop them as the high amount of players in the sector and their different interests will ensure that all sides are targeted. The sector’s global revenue comes up to $7.6 trillion and provides 77 million jobs and business opportunities. Moreover, the sector’s global growth is significant, and this confirms that it is promising and can bring us high revenues.
About 8 million visitors go to protectorates in Egypt on a yearly basis, meaning that if these protectorates are developed, they will pose as a great business opportunity for the country, pushing it forwards even more towards a healthy economy.
Advertising our protectorates, putting Egypt on the environmental tourism map
As part of advertising them and prepping them for environmental tourism, the Ministry also worked on developing protectorates.
To develop protectorates to make them ready for investors—and more attractive for them too—Egypt has located millions towards protectorates, especially those that have recently been announced. In 2016, Egypt located some LE 38 million to 12 protectorates in Sinai.
Dr. Essam Saadallah, Director of Nature Reserves in Sinai, pointed out that the Ministry of Environment allocated LE 3 million to replacements and renovations, and improving services and securing reserves, adding 120 new sandbags around the coral reefs in the reserves of Ras Mohammed, Abu Jalum and Taba; they are also following diving and snorkelling activities to avoid any damaged that could happen to the coral reefs.
To develop and implement ideas that will meet the needs of visitors, explains Dr Adel Soliman, Former Director of Nature Reserved in the Ministry of Environment and Consultant to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), several governmental and international bodies researched and studied the kind of services that visitors will need in each reserve.
They reached the view that there is a need for environmental hotels, café, shaded areas for people to rest in for a while during their visit and washrooms. Although these developments first started in protectorates in Sinai, they then started to spread across all of Egypt’s protectorates.
Recently, Ahmed Salama, Head of Nature Protection Sector, Ministry of Environment, said that the Ministry is almost done developing nine out of 30 protectorates in Egypt. It is expected that developments will be finalized by the end of this year for these nine protectorates, in addition to Wadi Degla and the Petrified Forest.
Previous investment projects in protectorates
In line with the lack of resources, which only cover over 30 percent of the protectorates’ costs, according to the Ministry of Environment, the ministry looked for projects and supporting parties to fill the shortage in the budget of the Ministry of Environment.
In preparing the first portfolio for investments in the natural protectorates, which included the development of services on the beach Hanqorab and the environmental hotel and tourist restaurant in Wadi El Gemal - Hamata Protected Area, protected cultural and social educational centre in the Petrified Forest and cultivation of medicinal plants in Saint Katherine Protected Area in South Sinai and Wadi Al-Alaqi in Aswan.
Also, organic crops for visitors to see have been planted in Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area in Fayoum, in addition to preparing all the studies related to the Declaration of the General Commission for the Protection of Nature.
For his part, Dr Mohamed Talaat, Head of the Central Department of Nature Reserves, told Egypt Today that the new projects being implemented include the establishment of the Museum of Excavations and Climate Change Wadi El-Rayan protectorate, which is an architectural masterpiece that harmonizes with the unique geological formations of the area.
In addition to the establishment of an administrative building for Siwa park and the implementation of the full maintenance of the administrative building of Wadi El Gemal - Hamata Protected Area and the implementation of many of the infrastructure and vital facilities for the service and facilitate visits to the Wadi El Gemal - Hamata Protected Area.
Egypt’s 30 natural protectorates in the chronological order of their announcement
1- Ras Mohamed Protected Area in South Sinai Governorate
2- Zaraniq Protected Area and El Bardwaeel Marsh in the North Sinai Governorate
3- Coast Marshes Area in Rafah North Sinai Governorate (Ahrash Protectorate).
4- Elba Natural Protected Area in the Red Sea Governorate
5- Elomayed Natural Protected Area in Matrouh Governorate
6- Saloga, Ghazal and the Small Islands in between (First waterfall) in Aswan Governorate
7- Ashtoom El-Gamil and Tenis Island Protected Area in Port Said Governorate
8- Saint Katherine Protected Area in South Sinai
9- Wadi Al-Alaqi in Aswan Governorate
10- The Petrified Forest Area in Maadi - Cairo
11- Wadi Al-Asioutty Protected Area in Asiout Governorate
12- Wadi El-Rayan Protected Area in Fayoum Governorate
13- Quaron Lake Protected Area in El-Fayoum Governorate
14- Hassana Dome Protected Area in Giza Governorate
15- Wadi Sanor Cave Protected Area in Beni Sueif Governorate
16- Nabq Protected Area in South Sinai Governorate
17- Abu Gallum Protected Area in South Sinai Governorate
18- Taba Protected Area in South Sinai Governorate
19- El-Brolus Protected Area in Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate
20- Nile River Islands Protected Area in Different Governorate
21- Wadi Degla Protected Area in Cairo Governorate
22- Natural Siwa Protected Area in Matrouh Governorate
23- Natural White Desert Protected Area in El Wady EL Gedid
24- Wadi El Gemal - Hamata Protected Area
25- Red Sea Northern Islands
26- El Gulf El Kebeer
29- El-Wahat El-Bahreya
30- Mount Kamel Meteor Protectorate
The first two protectorates that will be put forward for investors are: Nabq and Wadi Degla.
Nabq protected Area is characterized by a number of important environmental systems like: coral reefs, sea and land creatures, large dense mangrove woods. It includes environmental systems of desert, mountain and valleys, and animals like deer, mountain goat, hyena, reptiles and a lot of migrating and resident birds beside invertebrates, according to the website of the Ministry of Environment.
Meanwhile, Wadi Degla extends from east to west with a length of 30 km, passing through the limestone rocks that had remained in the marine environment during the Eocene Epoch in the eastern desert (60 million years). Therefore, it is rich with fossils. The height of these rocks alongside the valley is around 50 m.
The valley has a group of animals including mammals like dear, taital, mountain rabits, red fox, feather tailed rat, oviparous, barbed rat, and little tailed bat and others. Among the insects there are and many others. 18 species of reptiles have been recorded. The rain water dropping from the waterfalls affected the limestone rocks along the years and formed the so called canyon Degla, which resembles the Grand Canyon in the U.S.
But how did protectorates fund themselves?
The energy and environment committee of the House of Representatives approved a new draft law on February 18, 2018, to establish and safeguard nature protectorates. This draft law stipulates the main sources of safeguard nature funds.
The draft law stipulates that the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) will establish the bases and rules of nature protectorates visits. They shall determine the costs of getting approvals to visit the protectorates and practice activities there. It asserts the importance of compliance with all laws and decisions regulating the entry of prohibited and prohibited areas.
Wadi Degla – Mohammed Said - Wikimedia commons
The EEAA is funded mainly from state’s budgets, grants, subsidies, grants and loans, in addition to half of the fees from visits and the money return of issuing licenses. The rest of money shall be deposited in favor of the Environment Protection Fund. The financial resources shall include the return of economic and training projects and the proceeds of the investments and activities of the Authority and against the works or services rendered to third parties and the equivalent of 50 percent of the proceeds from fines as well as damage to natural reserves.
Nonetheless, the tickets to enter nature protectorates are considered one of fund sources of protectorates, yet the prices of these tickets are still cheap. To visit Wadi el-Gamal and Wadi Al-Hitan protectorate, you have to buy a ticket by five pounds only if you are Egyptian citizen and forty pounds if you are foreigner. For camping, you will pay ten pounds if you are Egyptian citizen and eighty pounds if you are foreigner.
Wadi al-Weshwashy – Official Facebook page of Best Places Egypt
Wadi Degla Protectorate is less expensive than Wadi el-Gamal and Wadi Al-Hitan. Wadi Degla is open every day until 6 pm. Entrance costs just three pounds for Egyptians and five for foreigners. If you are Egyptian riding a car, you will pay five pounds. Camping in Wadi Degla will cost you ten pounds.
Egypt currently has a total of 28 natural protectorates found across the country covering an area of around 150,000 square kilometers or approximately 15 percent of Egypt's land area.
A positive step
Despite a Member of Parliament saying that protectorates are not washrooms and should not be open for investment, it seems that investing in environmental sightseeing spots, cultural museums, or hotels that enable people to stay and enjoy protectorates will provide Egypt with the money to take care of these protectorates and save them, as Egypt has done so well, particularly during the past four years.
As one of the countries that enjoy a large number of natural protectorates, and one of the countries that has been praised worldwide for its ability to keep protectorates clean and safeguarded, it seems clear that any step taken to invest in protectorates is a positive step—and one that has been looked at, analysed and studied for a sufficient amount of time—towards more economic, social and environmental prosperity.
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