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RIYADH: The National Center for Wildlife on Sunday organized the first protected areas forum in Hima to discuss conservation efforts for natural habitats and wildlife in Saudi Arabia.

The forum was inaugurated by the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Center for Wildlife, Abdulrahman Al-Fadhli.

The event, held from April 21 to 24, is the first of its kind in the region and attracts both local and international participants.

Red Sea Global, Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority are among the companies and projects taking part in the three-day forum. (A photo by Abdulrahman Alnajim)

“We are talking about participation of Red Sea Global, AMAALA and NEOM to work together and make conservation efforts,” said Mohammad Qurban, CEO of the National Center for Wildlife.

Qurban added that hosting Hima will bring together knowledge, efforts and expertise to conserve and protect natural resources.

In addition, the center will highlight some of the Kingdom’s sustainable practices regarding environmental health, he added.

One of the center’s projects is an expedition to survey and study Saudi Arabia’s wildlife and landscapes in all regions, in collaboration with universities and educational centers in each area, Qurban told Arab News.

Institutions including Britain’s University of Oxford and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology will participate in the program.

Major local companies and projects are participating in the three-day forum, including Red Sea Global, Catmosphere, the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority.

Omar Al-Attas, Head of Environmental Protection and Regeneration at Red Sea Global, said: “Red Sea Global has kept the protection, improvement and conservation of the environment as its main goal since the beginning of its development. We have worked over the years to understand exactly what we are dealing with on both sides, on land and at sea.

“Based on a long period of time, which has taken more than three years of assessment and baseline establishment, we clearly understand our marine area, which has led to the design of the Marine Protected Area, a proposal we will work on with the National Center for Wildlife and the Ministry.”

The forum offers an extensive program for visitors, with activities such as panel discussions, presentations and workshops. All sessions are led by local and international experts who focus on conserving nature and protecting biodiversity.

“We have introduced the oryx in the King Khalid Reserve, which we are also responsible for. We started introducing it in 2021,” said Talal Al-Harigi, CEO of Imam Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Royal Reserve Development Authority.

“On the other hand, we are increasing the number of plants. A month ago we completed planting 1 million plants for both reserves.

“We work with local communities to support honey bee crafts. Bee grazing is now one of our new activities… for the second year, honey bees are producing Rudhat Khuraim honey,” Al-Harigi added.

Since its founding in 2019, the National Center for Wildlife has been tackling the challenges facing wildlife and marine ecosystems, with the aim of protecting the environment for future generations.