- RCU to showcase its ambitious regreening and rewilding projects as Premium Sponsor of the 10th World Conference on Ecological Restoration, serving to bolster global biodiversity
- RCU has successfully integrated over 100,000 seedlings into the wild with a 90 per cent survival rate, with plans to introduce a further 400,000 by 2024
ALULA, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 19, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) will showcase its extensive environmental regeneration projects at the upcoming Society for Ecological Restoration’s 10th World Conference (SER2023) in Darwin, Australia. RCU’s participation as a Premium Sponsor of the event will amplify its transformative efforts in AlUla, highlighting its emerging leadership role in the sustainable conservation of natural and cultural landscapes and the rejuvenation of arid, degraded ecosystems.
The importance of this year’s event underscores the legacy of SER’s World Conferences; serving as a meeting point for experts and scholars, SER events provide vital avenues for knowledge exchange on the latest trends in restoration science, practice, and policy. With the 10th World Conference marking its first in-person gathering since 2019, RCU’s contribution to AlUla’s comprehensive regeneration will be major highlight of the event, held from 26 to 30 September 2023.
As the custodian of AlUla, a region with a unique ecological footprint, RCU is spearheading responsible and sustainable development at a pivotal moment for global biodiversity. It has established more than 11,000 sq. km of protected areas, totalling more than 50% of land in AlUla County, and launched impressive nursery operations that prioritise native flora, such as peregrina and acacia. By 2035, RCU plans to deliver the ecological restoration of at least 65,000 hectares.
Within AlUla’s Sharaan Nature Reserve, which covers an area of 1,200 sq km, a 100-hectare restoration pilot site has become a hallmark of RCU’s ecological restoration strategy. By taking an approach that harnesses natural regeneration, RCU has successfully integrated more than 100,000 native seedlings into the wild with an extraordinary 90% survival rate, a remarkable feat in such a harsh climate. As it plans to introduce 400,000 more seedlings by 2024, RCU continues its drive to expand green areas, leading the conversation around best practices in eco-restoration.
"Restoration efforts in the desert landscapes of AlUla are shining examples of how determined action can yield concrete change," said Dr Stephen Browne, Vice President of Wildlife and Natural Heritage at RCU. "RCU’s achievements, such as reintroducing native animal species to their natural habitat and rejuvenating native flora, offer the world a message of hope, resilience, and collaboration. Our sponsorship and participation at SER2023 is not only about highlighting our milestones; it is about setting international benchmarks for others to follow."
Beyond its tangible ecological impact, RCU’s work emphasises a broader narrative that links nature and culture. A recent RCU study found native flora species are flourishing in ‘conservation islands’ at the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hegra, drawing a vivid picture of nature’s resilience. RCU envisions AlUla as a blueprint for the protection and rejuvenation of arid ecosystems.
Deep-rooted community involvement is also fundamental to RCU’s ecological restoration goals, with 154 Rangers from the AlUla community having been trained and deployed to work across AlUla’s network of nature reserves. By entrusting the land’s guardianship to those who hold it dear and connecting local wisdom with modern practices, RCU is helping to shape international best practices for protected area management.
Aligning its on-ground efforts with global ambitions, RCU has strengthened its work through strategic partnerships. Its association with entities like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) underscores its commitment to collaboration. This accentuates RCU’s growing prominence in the eco-restoration field and conveys a clear message to the world: restoration is a collective mission, and every initiative is vital to saving our environment.
SER2023 will allow RCU to communicate its overarching agenda of positioning AlUla as a pioneering model for eco-restoration. With achievements ranging from creating expansive protected areas to the detailed conservation of arid ecosystems, RCU stands not just as a participant, but as a leader setting a gold standard for sustainable environmental stewardship worldwide.
Noted for editors:
It is always AlUla / not Al-Ula
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.