MAIN PHYTOGENETIC RESOURCES OF BAHRAIN AND THE MAIN THREATS
Of exceptional international importance is the Hawar Islands Protected Zone, which provides valuable feeding and breeding grounds for a large variety of migratory marine birds. The cormorant colony on the Socotra Hawar Islands is the largest in the world, and the dugong colony is the world’s second largest after Australia.
Urbanisation is the main threat for biological diversity in Bahrain. A considerable proportion of the coast has been altered by coastal development and by dredging and filling operations. Other important anthropogenic pressures on local biodiversity stem from industrial activities and contamination by hydrocarbons, as well as overfishing and the existence of invasive exotic species.
STATUS OF IN-SITU AND EX-SITU CONSERVATION
Bahrain has drawn up a National Environmental Strategy which is currently awaiting official approval. Financial limitations have not allowed the development of a system of protected areas in Bahrain.
To date there is one terrestrial protected area (the Al-Areen Wildlife Park) as well as five marine areas. The main objectives of the former are to promote scientific research, ecotourism, public awareness and conservation of the country’s biodiversity. Tuble Bay was declared a protected area in 1995 and designated a RAMSAR site in 1997 in an attempt to help protect the coast from development. The Hawar islands were declared a protected area in 1996 and designated a RAMSAR site in 1997.
The search for information carried out for this study seems to indicate that there is neither a germplasm bank nor a botanic garden as such in Bahrain. These are essential, especially in view of the environmental changes that have taken place over the last two decades as a result of urban expansion occupying most of southern Bahrain, which is considered one of the places with the richest plant diversity in the country. Ex-situ conservation can help prevent species from becoming extinct, and Bahrain is making efforts to explicitly include it amongst its priorities (and reflect it in legislation).