• They combine forces with accord signed on side-lines of the COP28 conference in Dubai
  • Areas of collaboration include reducing carbon emissions at five reserves in AlUla

Dubai, UAE: The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and the conservation organisation Space for Giants have signed an agreement to combine their areas of expertise in biodiversity conservation at AlUla, an emerging destination for cultural and natural heritage in north-west Saudi Arabia.

The goals of the agreement are to be realised over the next three years through the collaborative design and delivery of integrated activities for the protection, management, and visitation and monitoring of biodiversity and natural landscapes in line with global commitments, the Saudi Green Initiative and Vision 2030.  

Areas of collaboration under the agreement include:

  • Ensure that the ranger force in RCU’s nature reserves has the equipment, capacity, systems and governance to protect community rights and ranger health and safety. 
  • Develop communications and technology architecture to provide rangers with the tools to patrol and protect the reserves and share data quickly.   
  • Develop the management capacity and systems of the reserves so that each achieves IUCN Green List certification by 2025.
  • Calculate the potential for reducing carbon emissions and increasing carbon storage capacity at the reserves.   
  • Promote a nature-based, sustainable ecotourism model for AlUla. 

Dr Stephen Browne, RCU’s VP, Wildlife and Natural Heritage, said: “RCU is a growing player in conservation through biodiversity conservation efforts including species reintroduction, habitat restoration, protected area management and Arabian Leopard conservation.​ Together with Space for Giants we aim to raise awareness among citizens and visitors about the conservation of biodiversity and heritage, as well as develop connections between biodiversity conservation stakeholders to create a more sustainably managed and functioning ecosystem.​”

Dr Max Graham, CEO and founder of Space for Giants, said: “From our origin in elephant conservation, Space for Giants has grown to become a disciplined and innovative collaborator with organisations such as RCU that share our commitment to conservation. Our areas of expertise span conservation landscapes, conservation science, human-wildlife coexistence and frontline protection for those working in national parks and conservation areas. We are very excited to now be delivering this skill set in Saudi Arabia and to be able to deliver vital and long-lasting conservation benefits to the region.”

Across AlUla County, RCU is creating five nature reserves – Sharaan, Al Gharameel, Wadi Nakhlah, Harrat Alzabin, and Harrat Uwayrid – each with its own distinctive flora, fauna and geological features. These nature reserves cover a combined area of more than 12,500 sq km which places more than 50% of all land in AlUla County under active conservation. Patrolling the reserves are 154 wildlife rangers from AlUla County who have completed an 18-month training programme. 

For media enquiries please contact publicrelations@rcu.gov.sa or Sharon Lwane at Sharon.lwane@spaceforgiants.org

About the Royal Commission for AlUla

The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to preserve and develop AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in north-west Saudi Arabia. RCU’s long-term plan outlines a responsible, sustainable, and sensitive approach to urban and economic development that preserves the area’s natural and historic heritage while establishing AlUla as a desirable location to live, work, and visit. This encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education, and the arts, reflecting a commitment to meeting the economic diversification, local community empowerment, and heritage preservation priorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 programme.

About Space for Giants

Space for Giants is an international conservation charity that protects Africa’s elephants and their landscapes while demonstrating the ecological and economic value both can bring. It uses science and best-practice to deliver conservation investment initiatives, to attract new funding to under-resourced protected areas. It works with national authorities to strengthen legal action to fight wildlife crime and protect animals in the wild. It uses technology it pioneered to reduce human-elephant conflict, and works with a wide range of individuals including academics, journalists, celebrities, philanthropists, and sports people, to bring new supporters to its cause. It is headquartered in Kenya, works in nine countries in Africa, and is registered as a charity in the UK and a non-profit in the US. Learn more at www.spaceforgiants.org.