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Gulf of Maine Coastal Program Advises Oman in Managing Coastal Nature Reserves
Northeast Region, February 6, 2012
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Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Environment Society of Oman and ITAP staff in Sur, Oman.
Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Environment Society of Oman and ITAP staff in Sur, Oman. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Stewart Fefer
Ras al Jinz Nature Reserve, Oman.
Ras al Jinz Nature Reserve, Oman. - Photo Credit: USFWS/Stewart Fefer

Gulf of Maine Coastal Program’s Project Leader, Stewart Fefer, and Acadia National Park’s Chief of Resource Management, David Manski, are working with the Department of Interior International Technical Assistance Program (ITAP) to help build capacity for managing nature reserves in Oman. Through funding from the Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative, ITAP has visited Oman six times since 2009 to assess current management of key nature reserves.

 

Oman’s diverse natural resources include coral reefs, Arabian leopards, and internationally significant populations of green, hawksbill, and loggerhead sea turtles. However, coastal areas of Oman are growing rapidly, resulting in new roads, housing, airports, marinas, and other developments. New hotels, resorts, and associated infrastructure cater to an influx of tourists including those who seek out coastal natural areas for activities like diving, camping, turtle watching, and beachcombing. The rate and scale of these new and future tourism developments adds unprecedented pressures on the nature reserves.

Despite their commitment to conservation, Oman Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) staff are unable to meet the variety of demands for the use and development of their nature reserves without additional actions and assistance. Creative partnerships can help manage the nature reserves and balance the needs of fish and wildlife with growing tourism. ITAP, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Marine Turtle Conservation Act grant program, provided a series of recommendations designed to build capacity for managing nature reserves in Oman, including prescriptions for increased training for staff and assistance with management planning.

As part of the ITAP team, Stewart Fefer provided several recommendations, including focusing on nature reserves for biological monitoring, collecting baseline information, and analyzing this data. Stewart also recommended using the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Wildlife Fund Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool for monitoring the management effectiveness of nature reserves, developing and implementing training programs for professional nature reserve management staff, and developing education programs for future nature reserve managers through universities and other education institutions. These ideas are all under consideration.

The Oman Environment and Conservation Ministries requested continued assistance from ITAP, particularly with translating assessments into action plans for the individual reserves. Utilizing its vast expertise in managing protected areas, ITAP will continue working with Oman to strengthen management for key protected areas. Ultimately, ITAP’s goal is to promote Oman’s nature reserves as a base for sustainable tourism.


Contact Info: Mao Lin, (207) 781-8364 x15, mao_lin@fws.gov



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