Promoting biodiversity

Planet

Contrary to what may be expected from a desert region Saudi Arabia has large, unspoiled natural areas with high biodiversity.

The Kingdom is home to different climates from region to region, and a variety of habitats, including marine, coastal, desert, valleys and mountain ecosystems.

Our operations span the breadth of the Kingdom’s environmental zones — so the protection and preservation of our natural environment for future generations is vital to our continued success.

Saudi Arabia’s biodiversity in numbers

505
Bird species
76
Mammals
102
Reptiles, one third of which are found only in the Arab Peninsula
2,250
Flowering plants
266
Coral-reef species in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf
1,230
Fish species

At Saudi Aramco, we strive to create a culture that prioritizes understanding of these ecological habitats, their plants and animals, and promotes their protection.

From creating a wildlife sanctuary in the Rub’ al-Khali, to establishing artificial reefs, to planting millions of mangrove trees and desert trees, and developing a mangrove eco-park, we conduct initiatives that protect the biodiversity of our land, seas, and coastlines.

Artificial reefs: enhancing biodiversity in the Arabian Gulf

Coral reefs are invaluable sources of ecological and economic richness. These ecosystems serve as nurseries for numerous marine species and act as natural barriers against coastal erosion.

Various kinds of disturbances, both natural and human induced, have impacted coral reefs worldwide leading to their overall degradation and loss, and the Arabian Gulf is no exception.

Currently, most of the coral reefs in the Arabian Gulf are under risk of disappearance due to a combination of climate change factors and human activities such as fishing, dredging and marine pollution.

Saudi Aramco has been actively promoting the growth of marine life with both planned and unplanned artificial reefs. In addition to the offshore oil and gas facilities that act as artificial reefs by providing substrate for the development of marine communities, we have advanced our approach by creating permanent, stable and long-lived artificial reef structures throughout the Arabian Gulf.

Currently, we have an initiative underway to install planned artificial reefs in various strategic locations. The first reefs were deployed at 25 sites in September 2015.

Seasonal monitoring of the 25 artificial reefs examined productivity, species biodiversity and fish numbers. The results indicated that the central part of the Arabian Gulf — specifically the region of Manifa, Abu Ali, Jubail and Ras Tanura — was the area with the highest abundance of reef fish, the highest biodiversity of reef organisms, and was the most productive in terms of overall biomass.

The next phase in this project will deploy additional mega-artificial reef arrays at nine ideal sites in the Arabian Gulf. The reefs will create new productive habitats, enhancing the Arabian Gulf’s fisheries resources and offshore biodiversity while also providing resilience to impact from climate change.

Mangrove initiatives

The Arabian Gulf coastline features many inlets and bays, fringed by mangrove trees that provide a critical habitat for birds and marine life. With this ecosystem under pressure from development, we are working to preserve and protect this natural resource for future generations.

We are developing a mangrove eco-park, which when completed will protect 63 square km of mangrove forest, salt marsh and sea grass habitats – important nurseries for fish and shrimp. The park will help foster knowledge and appreciation of this fragile ecosystem.

Our mangrove plantation initiative to restore lost mangrove habitats in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province coastal areas is on track to plant two million mangrove seedlings by the end of 2018, with support from thousands of company and community volunteers.

In addition to restoring critical habitat for marine life and birds, these mangrove forests serve as the most significant natural CO2 sink in the Kingdom.

In partnership with KFUPM and KAUST, we completed a blue carbon study (blue carbon is the carbon stored and sequestered in coastal ecosystems) to estimate carbon sequestration in company biodiversity areas. The study highlighted that areas such as the Ras Tanura mangrove eco-park and Abu Ali Island are able to store approximately 1.7 million tons of CO2 over the lifetime of the mangroves.


Further afield

North America

Smithsonian Institution, SI Move: A groundbreaking initiative, SI Move follows various species of terrestrial, avian, and marine animals with satellite tracking devices to improve the understanding of migration patterns and ecosystems. With our support, the Smithsonian has attached satellite devices to more than 75 animals, representing 10 species around the world. As part of our collaboration with SI Move in Saudi Arabia, Arabian oryx, Asir magpie, and black-tipped reef sharks will be tracked.

Europe

Sea Alarm Foundation, the European Regional Seas Oiled Wildlife Preparedness Program: The Foundation seeks to establish coastal oiled wildlife response plans and professional response capabilities worldwide. With our support, the foundation is organizing wildlife training and exercise programs for the Mediterranean, Atlantic/North Sea, and Baltic regions.

Asia

The Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials (iChEM): We have partnered with iChEM, which was established jointly by three Chinese universities, to launch the Energy Environmental Innovation Challenge to support teams of students interested in clean energy, entrepreneurship, and sustainable development.