Assessing constraints to environmental protection in SE Arabia (Yemen)

Traditional land use and reconsideration of environmental zoning in the Hawf Protected Area, south-eastern Yemen

Project leader: Prof. Dr. Andreas Bürkert
Project scientist: Diana Quiroz
Financing: UNDP

The Al Hawf area at the Yemen-Oman border hosts a unique fog-derived ecosystem which, due to its high diversity of plant and animal species, merits protection. Given the area's remoteness, poor infrastructure, high population growth and limited exchanges across the Omani border, the local livelihoods strongly rely on the exploitation of natural marine and terrestrial resources. Since quantitative data on the intensity of anthropogenic pressure on the terrestrial ecosystem are lacking, the present study analysed the impact of agricultural and pastoral land use on the vegetation of the designated Hawf Protected Area (HPA). To this end structured interviews, village walks and other rural appraisal tools were combined with vegetation surveys and GPS-based monitoring of pasturing livestock herds. The loss of traditional herding systems that regulated selective management of fragile grazing grounds along the altitude gradient in the HPA, particularly for camels, the overexploitation of woody perennials for construction purposes, and the resettlement of former migrant workers are major constraints for the successful implementation of the government-designed management plan. Implementation could be improved by better taking into account the vegetation composition in the area, current and traditional grazing schemes and local people's needs for off-farm income.