Saudi’s Harrat Uwayrid nature reserve joins UNESCO biosphere reserves list

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Saudi Arabia's Harrat Uwayrid nature reserve has been added to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve's World Network, the Royal Commission for AlUla has announced.

Home to critically endangered Arabian leopards and Arabian gazelles, and about 50,000 villagers who depend heavily on pastoral activities and farming for income, it is the second nature reserve to enter the UN cultural body's “Man and the Biosphere” program, which aims to “establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments”.

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It was chosen in recognition of the site’s unique and innovative approach to promoting economic development that is environmentally sustainable.

On its Twitter account, the Royal Commission for AlUla said: “Harrat Uwayrid is an outstanding area of natural beauty in AlUla, offering unique biodiversity and cultural richness. We are proud to announce its admission into UNESCO.”

Harrat Uwayrid is the largest nature reserve of five in the Kingdom's AlUla region, with 19 endangered species, 55 kinds of rare plants and 43 species of birds.

Harrat Uwayrid Reserve is the second site in Saudi Arabia to have joined the program after the Farasan Islands – a 380 square kilometer archipelago off the coast of Jazan - which was chosen last year.

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