|St. Katherine's Protectorate
South Sinai, Egypt
|The area around the town of St. Katherine is classified as being arid (<100 mm precipitation in an average year), and is characterised by an extensive network of dry valleys (wadis) interspersed with high mountain peaks (up to 2,650 m) and ridges: a naturally fragmented landscape. These physical features form natural barriers to the dispersal of many species, consequently even areas that are relatively close to one another differ in subtle aspects of their ecology.|
|The area of St Katherine in Sinai was gazetted as a 4,300 km2 Protectorate in 1996. One of Egypt's most biologically diverse areas, it contains 2/3rds of the country's butterflies and 40% of its plant species; many are threatened and endemic.
|The St. Katherine’s Protectorate is very little studied biologically and as such faces a severe lack of scientific information with which to develop an integrated management plan with scientifically based conservation objectives. Increasing pressure from settlement, rapidly expanding tourism (it is one of the world's most important cultural sites), and changing land-use practices by the native Bedouin compound this problem.|
|The ST KATHERINE'S PROTECTORATE MANAGEMENT UNIT (SKPMU) was set-up in the 1990's with EU support. In 2003, EU support ended and the management of the Protectorate was 'handed over' to the Egyptian Government.
The SKPMU has been instrumental in the creation and support of many diverse projects:
Alqamy H., T. Wacher, S. Rashad, M. Hemeed, and Y. Abd Elbasset (2003) Grazing patterns in high altitude mountains around St Katherine town: A GIS integrated approach. (Nature conservation sector, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Egypt)
NB - this link takes you to a PDF version of the paper; it is a large paper and will take a long time to open, so please be patient
|EDUCATION / ENHANCEMENT OF TOURISM:
In 2003, work was completed on a state-of-the-art visitor centre located close to the Monastery of St katherine. The Centre is consists of a number of separate buildings, each beautifully constructed using local matarials. Inside the buildings, visitors can learn about the Protectorate's fauna and flora, geology, bedouin, and historical significance / archaeology.
The SKPMU understands the importance of working with other organsiations and researchers in order to maximise the information available for successful management of the Protectorate.
In recent years, the SKPMU have helped Mike James (University of Nottingham) carry out his research on one of the areas most interesting inhabitants - the Sinai Baton Blue butterfly (Pseudophilotes sinaicus). This butterfly is only found in the Protectorate and is probably the smallest butterfly in the world.
In 2003, the Global Environmental Facility began a project to study and protect the medicinal plants that grow in the St Katherine's Protectorate