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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Sultanate of Oman is found in the southeastern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, its land consisting of gravel desert plains, sand dunes, mountain ranges and coastal lines. Despite the country’s arid climate, it possesses a relatively high level of biodiversity, especially in regions that have higher levels of precipitation. Terrestrial biodiversity is an important component of Oman’s biodiversity; rangelands and woodlands harbour a diverse array of plant species, with more than 1,208 identified so far. Plant communities include 78 endemic species, with 11 plant species currently considered to be endangered or critically endangered. The country’s fauna includes the Arabian Gazelle, Wolf, Striped Hyena, Sand Gazelle, Arabian Oryx, Nubian Ibex, Arabian Tahr and the Arabian Leopard. In addition, 1,142 fish species, 329 bird species, 75 reptile species, and thousands of invertebrate species have been identified. Five species of turtle are found on the coast of Oman.

Oman’s marine habitats on the coast of the Arabian Sea are of international importance and include, for example, the turtle nesting beaches of Ras Al Hadd and Masirah Island, the migratory bird feeding and nesting grounds of Barr Al Hikman, suspected resident, breeding populations of the Humpback Whale, and a unique (monospecific) coral reef off Barr Al Hikman.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The main threats to biodiversity in Oman include overgrazing, loss of habitat, overuse of and damage to coastal and marine ecosystems, invasive species, as well as population growth and use of modern technology. The overgrazing of vegetation in watersheds contributes to erosion and consequently severe siltation of khawr areas and the productive nearshore marine environment. Feral animals like dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, and introduced rats are potential threats to wildlife leading to the potential extirpation of sensitive species.

Coral reefs throughout Oman are threatened by large-scale and irreversible damage and the continued devaluation or loss of coral reef resources, including those currently of value to fisheries, tourism and recreation, coastal protection, scientific study, marine biodiversity and marine ecology. The natural impacts on Oman’s coral reefs reveal unusual and stressful conditions that must be tolerated. The principal impacts on coral reefs are linked to fishery-related damage causing coral reef breakage (e.g. tangled gill nets, boat anchors), coastal destruction, litter, recreational activities, oil pollution, discharges from desalination plants, and enriched water discharges from sea farms.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Completed and adopted in 2001, Oman’s NBSAP presents a vision for the country of a society that is conscious of the role and issues related to biodiversity, convinced of its responsibilities towards future generations and determined to use natural resources in a sustainable manner and in harmony with all other living things. The main strategic goals identified in the NBSAP include: safeguarding habitats and productive renewable resources for rational and sustainable exploration; conserving habitats, plant and animal biodiversity, especially that which is uncommon and of special interest; improving the understanding of ecosystems and increasing resource management capability; developing legislation that ensures the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources; developing incentives that will promote biodiversity conservation and provide employment for the local people; and equitably sharing the benefits derived from sustainable resources, including genetic resources. Priority actions were proposed under the following themes: conservation of natural resources, terrestrial and freshwater fauna, marine life and fisheries, terrestrial and aquatic flora, agricultural resources, energy resources, mineral resources, industry, technology and services, urban environment, water resources, public participation, social and spiritual values and quality of life.

Activities are currently underway in regard to setting national targets in line with Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and developing a revised NBSAP and related indicators. Oman hopes to finalize these activities by the end of 2014.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The CITES permit system in the country is presently being established, as are Guidelines for Biosafety and Bioprospecting.

Activities are underway (20% completed) to fence the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, with a new plan also being developed for managing the Oryx within a fenced area. Regular monitoring is conducted by rangers from the Office for Environment Conservation (Diwan) on one of the three main populations of Arabian Tahr, with a management plan for this species also in development. The Arabian Leopard population is being monitored by camera trapping and satellite tracking. Numerous projects have been implemented directed at conserving specific species (e.g. Nubian Ibex, Hubara Bustard, Arabian Leopard, Blanford Fox). Other projects, such as the Mangrove Tree Transplantation Project and the National Coral Reef Management Plan, have been designed to protect specific habitats.

The ongoing development of the Oman Botanic Garden has elevated the appreciation of and conservation of the country’s rare and endangered plants. In addition, the Garden has propagated 350 of the 1200 species of Omani flora.

Twenty-four Omani cultivars of dates (Phoenix dactylifera) are being studied in the Date Palm Research Center of the Ministry of Agriculture. Other crops being researched include different varieties of Oman mango, wheat, barley, chickpea and annual/perennial forages.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The major pieces of related legislation are the Law on the Conservation of Nature Reserves and Wildlife (2003), and the Law on Conservation of the Environment and Prevention of Pollution (2001) which calls for a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) before an environmental permit is issued (unfortunately, due to a lack of human resources, many projects have not been monitored closely).

It is difficult to get external financing for projects because the Sultanate of Oman is an oil-producing country. As such, financing for projects for the National Action Plan is obtained through the Sultanate's general budget (however total financing is unavailable due to the multitude of agencies responsible for implementation).

The opening of Oman Natural History Museum in 1985 paved the way for public education on biodiversity. Visitors, particularly school children, have become more exposed to learning about the country’s biodiversity. The museum has also become a venue at which local and international investigators conduct valuable research.

Biodiversity conservation has been integrated within different sectors, across sectors, and in programs and policies of the country. The government agencies are led by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA), Diwan (Council) of the Royal Court, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF), while the Environment Society of Oman (ESO) represents non-government organizations. The Ministries of Information, Tourism, Defense, Oil and Gas, Education and Higher Education are also considering biodiversity conservation in their programs. Environmental projects endorsed by the Diwan of the Royal Court have been crucial in conserving some of the country’s endangered species, such as the Arabian Oryx, Arabian Tahr and the Arabian Leopard.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

A methodology, including mechanisms and performance indicators to comprehensively monitor and review biodiversity in the country, does not exist.

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme