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Biological Diversity

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The territory of the Sultanate is made up of desert rocky plains, sand and mountains areas as well as coastline coastal plain.  The coastal plain covers 3% of the Sultanate space (the National Strategy for Sustainable Development for Animal Resources, 2012).  Although its dry climate, the sultanate is in a place of unique biodiversity, mainly in parts of the Sultanate of Oman popular with heavy rains.


The Sultanate of Oman is a habitat for more than 1,200 species of documented plants (3 globally threatened), 509 species of marine plants, 766 species of marine invertebrates and 988 species of fish (13 globally threatened), and 89 of amphibians and reptiles (7 and 6% settlement) (Reginald Victor 0.2014). Moreover, it is a habitat of 518 species of birds (12 globally threatened), and 93 species of mammals (20 globally threatened).  Additional surveys may lead to increase the number of those species that have been counted in the Sultanate. Bearing in mind that the territory of the Sultanate is reclaimed by human to some extent, the biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by the Sultanate are subject the same time to potential threats from human activities and represent a significant resource of human activities and welfare.


The total protected area (either through national legislation or on the international allocation) amounts to 040 249 672. 0 of the territory of the Sultanate, taking into account the different types of protection, the protected area in the Sultanate is 4. 27%.




The Sultanate was evaluated in 2001, 2009 and 2013, the period in which the used evaluation methodology was improved through publishing new information and papers on websites. This is to be taken into consideration upon comparing the results of these evaluations.  Although knowledge gap has become narrow, 20% of the statuses of global importance species are unclear, and 55% of all Omani species are still subject to threats of overgrazing, climate change, habitat fragmentation, poaching and urban expansion.  Moreover, pollution has slightly effect on each of the species and the habitats as it is controlled relatively well in Oman.  The remaining portion of 25% of the species is in an appropriate condition.


The Sultanate's geographical location and the biodiversity provide suitable cultivation conditions; cultivation depends greatly on the fertile land which is likely locating along the coastal plain in the Batinah and Salalah, and the banks of the valleys of the mountainous areas. Local produced crops such as pomegranates, bananas and lettuce are consumed domestically, but many crops are imported to supply local markets. Local plants are also used in handicraft tools, medicines and household items. Agricultural land covers 8% of the territory of the Sultanate.  Fisheries provide significant economic directly benefits while the agricultural sector represented 6% -6.14% of GDP in 2008, and came in first place for non-oil exports (the National Strategy for Sustainable Development for Animal Resources, 2012).  Unfortunately, land fertility is expected to be deteriorated after successive cultivation arising from single and double crop rotation system. 


It is worth mentioning that organic fertilizers and organic agriculture are used slightly in the Sultanate. In addition, the large numbers of cattle, sheep, goats and camels have exceeded the capacity of the pastures which led to the deterioration of the botanical composition and productivity of biomass. 


Desertification also invaded Dhofar Mountains because of high inventory, the weak application for practices of pasture management and the significant deterioration in pasture and productivity. It is to say that farms are dominated by goats (1557148), sheep (351 066), cattle (301 558), donkeys (3825), camels (117 299) and poultry (16,998,991). The field was almost opened all regions of the country, and overgrazing began to affect plant diversity negatively, especially in the southern mountains of Jebel Samhan, Jabal Al Qamar and Jebel Qara. It caused soil erosion and pressure on the soil resulting in increased runoff and to the low level of the groundwater. 


Camels constitute 18.6 % of the total number of livestock in Dhofar and are considered the main threat to the environment and vegetation as most people leave their camels graze freely on their own, and thus intensive grazing led to the death of many trees and shrubs.


Forests and woodlands, which cover 20 square kilometers and 13,000 square kilometers respectively, are Avicennia, remnants of forests, dense forests and the relevant plant formations confined to the mountainous areas in the Sultanate.


As for water areas, lakes of Avicennia and Khiran in the Sultanate are still susceptible to damage as a result of rapid development.


The main growth of the coral is limited to four regions: Musandam peninsula, rocky beaches, bays and islands in, and near Muscat (Oman Sea), and the fjords and shallow waters and beaches west of Masirah Island (Arabian Sea); and some isolated protected sites in Dhofar and the islands of Al Halaniyat. The major influences of coral reefs lay in damages related to fisheries that cause the break of coral reefs as a result of stuck nets and marinas, and the destruction of the coast, garbage, recreational activities, oil pollution, and discharges of desalination plants and the discharge of enriched water from sea water farms.


Little things are known about whales groups in Omani waters. Environment Society of Oman (ESO) collected enough data by pictures determination techniques only about humpback whale. Moreover, there are also historical data on whaling for this type which enable the limited understanding of the historical abundance, and thus, a preliminary assessment of this trend can be made. Accordingly, the Omani humpback whale group is unique genetically and is endangered. World Federation of maintenance declared this group as endangered on the basis of its low numbers and limited regional scale. Therefore, it was recognized widely as one of the rarest baleen whale groups in the world.


The last census of plant species composition in the Sultanate resulted in a total of 1,200 of documented species (Batzelic, in press). Preservation status of 261 species of plants in the national red list was evaluated. A number of 189 of those plants was limited scale (Batzelic, in press), and 6.5 % (78 species) of all kinds are in Oman (Batzelic, in press). A total of 9.1 % of plants is threatened (Batzelic, in press). Plants largely inhabit the southern region where 46% of threatened species are there (Ghazanfar, 1998). Among inhabitants and regional inhabitants' species, there are 63 in Dhofar, 12 in the center of Oman and 25 in the northern mountains. Please, click here for more information, (link1).


Reptiles are of 103 species. There are two amphibians species are well-known, while lizards constitute the largest group with a number of 68 species. There are five sea turtles, and 29 species of snakes, nine of them are sea snakes. Generally, 14 species of lizards are national inhabitants'.


Five of the seven sea turtles species recognized globally are in Omani waters (Salem and Salem, 1991). Four of them nest on beaches of the Sultanate; Loggerhead turtle, Green turtle, Hawksbill turtle and Olive Ridley turtle. The fifth of them is the Leatherback turtle which is irregular visitor in the Sultanate as it feeds in water distant from the coastline nest as an immigrant in remote nesting beaches elsewhere in the world.

Loggerhead turtle family historical nesting in Masirah Island, which ranged between 30-40 thousand female, was in the late seventies. Then, the number fall to reach a level ranged between 20-25 thousand in the early nineties and to less to reach 12 thousand by 2008 (Baldwin, 2009). This decline is similar to that experienced by the only relatively large group of this kind in the world that lives in the eastern United States (Florida), as well as most of the other global groups. 
Thus, it seems that the Sultanate is not much different to other countries for what it suffers as a sharp decline in Loggerhead Turtle nesting group. 
Anyway, the Sultanate has the greatest responsibility than in implementing conservation actions to reduce further decline, and of course to strengthen the recovery due to the fact that it has one of the largest two groups in the world which constitutes up to 40% of all nesting females. When it comes to birds, threats lay in the use of land and the consolidation of the exotic species such as mynah, red-throated Lorikeet and house crows.
Concerning mammals, there are six species of large mammals (link2) are Arabian Oryx, Arabian Tahr, Arabian Gazelle, Arabian Wolf, White-Tailed Mongoose, Striped Hyena and Wild Cat. They are currently breeding in captivity. Two species were released in wilderness; the Arabian Oryx and Arabian Gazelle (Reginald Victor, 2014). Moreover, captivity breeding program has led to increase the number of Arabian Oryx, but unfortunately, hunters reduced this increasing. Also, Arabian Tahr which is protected by law in the Sultanate is still in decline. In case of leopards, there are fewer than 100 Arabian Leopards still roaming around the mountainous areas in the south of the Sultanate. This species is listed in the IUCN Red List as critically endangered. It is also listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Appendix 1. Arabian gazelle is among the vulnerable animals that have declined dramatically since the nineties. 
According to the media officials, the environmental awareness has increased according to interviews and events carried out.
As a matter of fact, main causes for losing biodiversity come from economic benefits and short-term profits. This led to the overuse use of environmental resources, the loss of natural habitats and fragmentation and degradation of habitats as infrastructure, investment and agriculture require more and more land.
Exotic and alien species spread easily in deteriorated habitats. Therefore, control of exotic species and limit the further spread in the country are of the important goals for conservation. It is to say that the use of local plants is appreciated in the Sultanate, but the elimination of exotic animal species has not been a priority yet.
Collecting documented data on exotic invasive marine species was continuous for a while. With regard to sectoral integration, it has been included aspects of biodiversity in national strategies and their action plans such as the National Strategy for the Protection of the Omani Environment: Integration of Resources and Environmental Management for Sustainable Development (1991), The National Strategy for Sustainable Development for Animal Resources (2012), Oman Salinity Strategy (2012), the National Solid Waste Management Strategy (2013) and Roadmap on Genetic Resources (2014) and Integrated Water Management Strategy.
 Meanwhile, other sectors and fields such as energy, transport and poverty reduction have achieved success to include aspects of biodiversity.
Endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and GCC Convention 2000, endangered plants and animals groups in Oman are included in the following table: 
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