Assessment of Environmental Impact on the Vegetation of Mediterranean Coastal Desert of Sinai Peninsula, Egypt


The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt represents a region of international significance from the stand point of biodiversity. It is home to numerous endemic species, subspecies, and races of plants, many of which are rare. It includes the hot spots of endemics to flora and fauna (60.7% of plant endemics to Egypt, Boulos, 1995). The area of Sinai Peninsula is about 61.000 square km (7% of the total area of Egypt and three times as much as the area of the Nile Delta). It is a land of mountains (St. Catherine, Mt. Moses with 2640 m and 2280 m a.s.l. respectively and others), seas (Mediterranean and Red), lakes (Bardawil and Great Bitter), wadies (e.g., El-Arish, Nukils, Fierran), valleys (El-Tinah), fresh and therapeutic wells (e.g., Al-Godayrat, Oyoun Feroun, Hammam Mousa), gulfs (Suez and Aqaba), hills (e.g., El-Halal, Yellaq), islands (e.g., El-Fellosyat, Pharaoh), natural reserves such as Zaranik (birding, Egyptian Tortoise), Ras Mohammed (marine) and St. Catherine (animals) and others.

In Sinai Peninsula, there are many environmental impacts such as extreme climatic events (drought, floods, severe storms and heat waves) and human impact. Currently, the Egyptian government initiated a new policy for the complete overhauling of the social, economic, political and culture structure for the development of Sinai (Sinai Project Development, 1994-2017). They are constructing a huge canal named El-Salam Canal to transfer the Nile water to Sinai. This canal is running through different ecosystems. It starts from the Nile River branch of Damietta, through Manzala Lake west of Suez Canal. It passes under the Suez Canal from the western side to the eastern side to Sinai. It is expected that the inflow of fresh water along with contaminants will change the ecology of Lake Bardawil (Ramsar site) which is currently the least polluted wetland in Egypt and in the Mediterranean region; probably, the inflow of fresh water will alter the lake from hypersaline into brackish and will cause the complete loss of many unique natural habitats At present, Sinai's native vegetation continues to be lost and degraded. The largest pressure on native vegetation is clearing for agriculture (772,000 feddans), pasture development (300,000 feddans), infrastructure (22,000 feddans) and other activities (Shura Council, 1995). Native vegetation is continuing to decline rapidly as a result of land clearing for agriculture, infrastructure and other human activities. Unfortunately, a large proportion of disturbance is continuing without the knowledge of all the potential impacts. It is not just the area of land cleared that is significant but also the fragmentation of ecosystems and habitats. Small, isolated remnants have a high boundary to area ratio, which makes them more susceptible to adverse weather and invasion by exotic and weeds. No studies have been done to give estimates of the amount of native vegetation, specific vegetation association affected by recent canal digging. No data on the major vegetation groups according to conservation status and degree of threat. The conservation of native vegetation is important for several reasons: (1) vegetation decline has detrimental effects on biodiversity; (2) in short term, land clearing kills many individual plants and animals; (3) in longer term, the impacts on species will take decades or longer to become fully manifest; many of fragmented remnant vegetation patches will be unable to provide sufficient habitat to ensure the continued viability of many species; (4) vegetation growth protects landforms, water cycles, natural drainage lines and maintains moisture levels in catchments; (5) the broad scale clearing of native vegetation and its replacement with systems that use water is the principal cause of dryland salinity (Ockerby, 1995).



Name Role Start End
Nijs, Ivan member 1999-01-01 2004-01-01


Name Role Start End
Research Group of Plant and Vegetation Ecology member 1999-01-01 2004-01-01

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

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