The Hawar Archipelago
for inclusion on the WHS list of natural properties
Submitted to UNESCO 11 June 2002
The Hawar Archipelago
1. Identification of the Property
Kingdom of Bahrain
c) Name of Property
An archipelago comprising of six major and over thirty smaller islands of various sizes with a total land area of over fifty sq. kms, the Islands are approximately 26 kms southeast of mainland Bahrain lying close to the Qatar Peninsular. Once the subject of an international boundary dispute between Qatar and Bahrain the Islands were awarded officially by the International courts of Justice (ICJ) to Bahrain in March 2001.
Although only the largest island is named Hawar, the name Hawar or Hawar Islands is locally used collectively, to describe the entire archipelago or group of Islands.
Named major Islands
Jazirat Hawar (main island)
Rubud Al Gharbiyah
Rubud Ash Sharqiyah
Suwad Ash Shamaliyah
Suwad Al Janubiyah
Named Island groups
Jazur Al Hajiyat
Jazur Al Wakur
Jazur Bu Sa’adad
Jazur Bu Tammur
d) Exact Location
The area to be designated is that as defined lying south and east of and enclosed by boundary lines from a point, as defined at the Northwest corner of the site by the intersection of line of Lat 25° 51’ 30” North with line of Long 50° 39’ 30” East, extended due east and south respectively to intersect at the International Boundary at the line of delineation with the State of Qatar and enclosing an area of approximately 581 sq kms +/-.
e) Maps and/or plans showing boundary of area proposed for inscription and of any buffer zone
2. Justification for Inscription
a) Statement of significance
Abundance of globally significant, rare threatened and endangered species
The Hawar Islands are an archipelago of 36 desert islands of surprising scenic variety, diversity and environmental purity. An archipelago of great beauty and regional importance, the Islands have an abundance of globally significant and threatened bird and endangered marine species both resident and migratory.
Listed as a Ramsar site February 1997, the undisturbed state of the outer islands provides an unrivalled sanctuary for numerous species of breeding sea birds.
The marine environments about the Islands embody a myriad of habitats and seascapes that are home to a remarkable array of marine fauna such as soft corals, fish, sponges, shells and endangered Green Turtle, the highly endangered Dugong (many nursing females), flora that includes extensive seagrass meadows, diverse and abundant algal communities and extensive halophytic vegetated coastal zones. The loss of the potential of these virtually untouched and pristine marine ecosystems, of their unknown biodiversity and of possible untold benefits to humankind are also factors worthy of consideration in defining the significance of the Islands
Physically the Hawar Archipelago and the marine environment about them are unique within the Arabian Gulf. Few other islands within the Gulf offer the variety of tropical marine systems as found on Hawar or for that matter satisfy the express aim of the February 2002 expert workshop organised in Vietnam, within the framework of the UN Foundation project “Filling critical gaps and promoting multi sites approach to new nominations in tropical coastal, marine and small islands systems” which included Hawar as one such potential NWHS for consideration.
The islands represent an unspoilt marine wetland comprising a multiplicity of exceptional and unique, inter-tidal and coastal zones, of habitats and marine eco-systems, all of accepted international importance. Their very survival within a state that is one of the most densely populated places in the world is due to their relative isolation in political, geographic and anthropomorphic terms.
The marine environments of the Hawar Islands represent prime examples of undisturbed indicator habitats that are areas of high productivity with food webs based on extensive areas of macroalgae, sea grasses and blue green algae. They are an outstanding example in representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes, of the evolution of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems in an arid environment of extremes in temperature and salinity.
Geographically isolated in a distinct biogeographical area for 7000 years
For many of Hawar’s rare, threatened and endangered species Dugong, Turtle, Reem Gazelle, Sundevall’s Jurd, Socotra Cormorant, Reef Herons and Sooty Falcons, the islands do represent and provide real protection. In part the result of the islands relative geographic, anthropological and political isolation.
The topography of the Islands and surrounding marine environment are the result of the interplay between several key factors besides geography and climate. The physical isolation of Hawar and its’ flora and fauna from the Arabian Peninsular and the main island of Bahrain occurred around 7,000 - 6,500 BP, when sea levels are thought to have obtained their present levels. The Geology of Hawar also reflects innumerable other changes in sea level from –120m to +5m as experienced throughout the quaternary era, the result of global climatic changes with a final submergence of a desert landscape in the late Holocene followed by its’ subsequent emergence.
The Gulf of Salwa, of which Hawar is a part, has been described and classified by the UNDP as a distinct biogeographical province in the Arabian Gulf. Globally significant the Islands therefore reflect this classification, however they must be regarded as a distinct and unique entity within this Gulf. Only the coastal zones of the Qatari Peninsular, abutting the archipelago and then only in part, mirror the marine habitats and eco-systems of the Hawar Island archipelago.
In an area where coastal zones are seen as prime real estate, the Islands are a survivor in a sea of development, however they are neither relics nor remnants of a larger unit, they are and remain complete within themselves.
In Bahrain human activities over the last 5,000 years have led to the destruction of much of the Main Island’s original and natural coastline. The islands of Hawar have escaped such interferences and development due to a complete lack of surface or aquifer water ensuring that human influences despite widespread evidence of anthropological activities across the Islands remained at a minimal subsistence level. The isolation of the islands became final with the total abandonment of the tribal subsistence settlements to nature in the late nineteen sixties.
The islands are littered with the physical and extensive remains of many surprisingly sophisticated surface water collecting systems, the age and origins of which have yet to be determined. The need for such systems contrasting completely the ancient excess of sweet water available on the main Island of Bahrain, were numerous aquifer fed natural wells which gave rise to the great civilization of Ancient Dilmon 4000 BP+/_. Physical archaeological evidence on the Islands would suggest that human activities on Hawar changed little with time and the drainage system reflects a completely unknown cultural aspect of Bahrain’s distinctive archaeological history. Given that man is currently the most potent modelling force on mainland Bahrain and much archaeology is being lost, the undisturbed, despite recent military activities, and distinctive nature of Hawar’s historical sites from pre-Dilmen to late Islamic give it a previously underrated importance and significance.
A more complete isolation for all but the main Island occurred in the modern era as political circumstances further contrived to isolate, preserve and protect the Islands. At the time of rapid urbanization and industrialisation throughout the rest of Bahrain and the Gulf in general, the recently concluded international boundary dispute between Qatar and Bahrain ensured that an element of forced protection on behalf of the States providing nature with an ideal opportunity to reclaim and augment the natural abundance of the Islands. The archipelago was a virtual closed military area during that period of dispute.
Accessibility for the International scientific community
Often portrayed as Bahrain’s last frontier and characterised by some as a hostile barren wasteland, the Islands’ represent an International asset of unequivocal and irreplaceable value. In requesting inclusion as a World Heritage Site (WHS) the Kingdom of Bahrain will be providing the International scientific community with an unrivalled level of access to a large unstudied and undocumented primeval habitat of the Arabian Gulf, an area of the world were political and social restrictions have both past and present, minimised opportunities for scientific, cultural and social studies at an International level. Access to The Hawar WHS will provide the international community with unlimited new research opportunities, in studying unspoilt and unique, marine wetlands, habitats, and eco-systems plus the rare, threatened or endangered species that inhabit them.
The promotion and encouragement of appropriate international research will stimulate locally and regionally the perception of the environmental, historic and social value of the Islands. The beneficial effects of the transfer of expertise and knowledge as a consequence to the resident scientific community by coordinating the efforts of organisations and individuals involved in research and ensuring the results are prepared in a manner that is comprehensible and usable to all audiences will act as a catalyst throughout the local educational system. International participation will assist the development of policies and instruments that support the objective of the protection through management and provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of the Islands and the seas that surround them, including all resources and biological diversity. Provide for, a coordinated and integrated management and administrative framework that is ecologically and economically sustainable and, will encourage the enhancement of knowledge of the natural resources and the effect of human activities on the area.
b) Possible comparative analysis (including state of conservation of similar sites)
Within the area of interest, the Arabian Gulf, Red and Arabian Sea, no “World Heritage” site of a marine nature currently exists.None of the adjacent states maintain any sites on the WHS tentative list.
c) Authenticity / Integrity
The relatively rapid and recent developments on Hawar even though minor in nature have not been accompanied by a corresponding growth in any management capacity for the Islands. The agencies charged with the management and administration of Bahrain’s obligations under International Conventions did not provide any meaningful “Codes of Conduct” for the Islands management. The successful outcome of the ICJ hearings has now brought social and economic issues into sharp focus. The protected status of the Islands and a lack of resolve to establish management tools could heighten conflict over access, use and control of the Hawar protected area. In initiating the process of inclusion on the World Heritage list it has been possible to focus attention at the highest level of management of Hawar the needs and current shortcoming in these areas so that they might be addressed.
Bahrain is currently undergoing tremendous political changes initiated by the government. Part of this process, one of democratisation, is the realization that past shortcomings in enforcement and application in protecting the environment have had a negative and often detrimental effect. The implementation of regulations requiring that Environmental Impact Assessment surveys (EIA) be undertaken for all development is now one obvious facet of officialdoms changing attitudes.
Public attitudes and expectations are also changing with an individual personal realization of a certain level of self-empowerment and that government action alone is not enough to protect the few remaining unspoiled areas, in particular the Islands of Hawar. There is a new general consensus emerging through NGO’s and individual stakeholders alike, one that demands that the pristine nature and fundamental ecological value of the Islands be respected.
During the process of defending Bahrain’s’ historical claim to the Islands at the ICJ hearings, local officially sanctioned publicity campaigns highlighted the unspoiled nature of the Islands leading to a growing public realization that the Islands constitute an ever-increasing national resource of scientific, natural, cultural and recreational value. Hawar as a consequence has become an icon and rallying point for local environmental and conservational groups who now often use comparatively the shortcomings of the past and the purity of the Hawar Islands to raise public awareness on many national environmental issues.
This environmental campaign contrasted a succession of unofficial proposals that surfaced during the same period. Proposed by a variety of agencies and organisations they were placed directly in to the public domain normally through the local media, even the Internet. However they do not represent official Government policy. The Bahrain government has publicly on numerous occasions reiterated the Islands protected status. The official Hawar Master plan, reflecting and integrated with Hawar’s special status has yet to be finalised.
Bahrain’s commitment to the preservation of the Hawar Islands was formalized in 1995 when Royal Decree, No. 2 1995, to instigate the creation of a Wildlife Sanctuary around the Hawar Islands was issued. The legislation to protect the Islands was completed with Edict No. 16 1996 issued by the Council of Ministers establishing the Islands as a Protected Area. This Edict has since been further reinforced by the nomination of the Islands of Hawar as a Ramsar Site and by Ministerial Orders (MOHME) for the protection of Wildlife. The Islands of Hawar were nominated on ratification of the Ramsar agreement on 26 February 1997 (Royal decree No. 3 1997).
The government has used the following mechanisms and protocols for the protection of Wildlife in Bahrain
Royal Decrees and Council of Ministers edicts were enacted to protect areas of special importance - the Hawar Islands, Ras Sanad Mangrove and Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve
The Establishment of Bahrain Wild Life Committee now The National Commission for the Protection of Wildlife (NCWP)
Formation of a National Biodiversity Committee, with the main objective to formulate a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP)
The establishment of Marine Protected Areas, Mashtan Island was adopted in April 2002
Kuwait Action Plan for the Protection of Marine Environment from pollution
The Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD
The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance as Waterfowl Habitats (Ramsar)
Hawar and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
The “Hawar Islands” were one of two nationally protected sites nominated by Bahrain under the “Ramsar Convention on Wetlands” on ratification of the Ramsar Agreement on 26 February 1997 (Royal decree No. 3 1997).
The Hawar Islands are the only island archipelago Ramsar site listed within the Arabian Gulf. Under the criteria for identifying “Wetlands of International Importance” as a Ramsar Site, as adopted by the 4th, 6th, and 7th Meetings of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar, Iran, 1971). The islands were nominated under Specific criteria based on waterbirds however the Islands meet the qualifying standards on more than one of the criterion as specified under the Ramsar Agreement.
Ramsar criteria applicable to the Islands
Hawar archipelago is an unique example of a natural wetland type with extensive algal banks, seagrass beds, shallow reefs and extensive mud/algal flats (Criterion 1)
The seas about Hawar are an important winter-feeding area for endangered Dugong (Dugong Dugon) (Criterion 4)
Daily totals of waterfowl present through the year always exceeds 20,000 (Criterion 5)
Hawar has two breeding species of bird (one endemic to the Gulf) that exceeds 10% or more of the World or Regional Biogeographical Breeding Population. Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis schistacea and Socotra Cormorant Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, six other species of waterbird that exceed 1% of Regional their Biogeographical Breeding Population (Criterion 6)
It has been suggested by some that the actual percentage of the World population of the endemic Socotra Cormorant given the loss of other breeding colonies around the Gulf could well exceed 20%.
In respect to Bahrain obligations under these agreements and protocols and as representatives of the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain it is the stated aim of the NCWP
To structure a multiple-use conservation system for protected areas such as the Islands of Hawar, so as to preserve representative as well as special ecosystems in the environment
To establish a formal management framework to ensure the various uses of the reserve are managed in an equitable, integrated and sustainable manner
To develop a strategy so that the management of biological and recreational resources takes into account the essential and sometimes competitive activities of tourism, recreation, scientific study and mineral and petroleum exploration and production
To ensure there is an equitable balance among the various uses of the areas and that these do not have a detrimental impact on the environment.
Integrity and Intrusions
Scant attention to problems arising from the introduction of exotic species of both flora and fauna has been paid in the past. Up to the point of the abandonment of settlements on the island domesticated animals were most certainly kept. Including most probably donkeys, goats, doves, pigeons and poultry. All except pigeons have long since disappeared from the Islands. Cats now the subjects of a vigorous removal campaign are thought to have originated from this period. Otherwise a small but nevertheless significant population of feral Pigeons and doves are all that remain on the Island. Feral Pigeons have colonised the Jebel areas close to the BDF camps but elsewhere away from human influences, they are few in number.
It is felt that problems, as the islands are inevitably developed, of domesticated animals and birds kept largely as pets, will always remain, irrespective of the strength of any legislation to prevent their placement on Hawar. Several pairs of escaped Common Mynah birds Acridotheres tristis have already colonised the area around the Hawar Hotel, there are plans to remove them.
The influence or impact on the native breeding Larks and Kentish Plover, the only documented important native terrestrial breeding species, in development areas will probably be from the development itself with the subsequent loss of breeding habitat.
The motivation for the release and placement of small breeding herds of Arabian Oryx, Addax and Nubian Ibex on Hawar over the last few decades was not documented and its is not known if this was part of a specific strategy. The animals all initially from Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve were released onto Hawar over a period of years before Al Areen was placed under the authority of NCWP. The animals are now however managed by the NCWP and provided daily, with fodder, food supplements and water at five or six locations around the Islands. The impact of these animals on Hawar is difficult to quantify. There is some evidence of overgrazing of certain plant species around the islands. The most seriously affected plant species seem to be the rushes sages and seasonal grasses.
The most serious introduction to the main Island of Hawar in recent years has been the release of a number of Desert Hares Lepus capensis. Brought from Saudi Arabia they were introduced to supplement the locally declining population that had been decimated by feral cats. The NCWP have initiated a management programs to ensure that the releases of the past will not be repeated to threaten in the future the integrity of Hawar.
The so-called beautification, greening around existing and proposed developments is one aspect of the opening up of the islands that is a matter of some concern. Developers feel that greening activities are essential and native species do not satisfy a need to create a simulated Island paradise. Currently however the introduced trees on Hawar, small in extent and number, are all of species that are dependent on irrigation for survival. Controlling the use of exotic alien desert species not so dependant could prove problematic in the future and therefore will require careful monitoring. Visual evidence at abandoned settlement and water collection sites indicate that some palms and native (locally occurring) fruit trees were present on Hawar during recent times.
The increase in human recreation and tourism development even though small scale envisaged on the islands and about the marine reserve given the large numbers of breeding seabirds and endangered marine mammals present, is however of more concern, requiring therefore management action. Unstructured liberalisation of access could affect the Islands integrity. The potential dangers in increasing visitation to offshore islands are numerous. For managing the nominated area and its resources so as to achieve the necessary balance, zoning in accordance with IUCN statagies are considered therefore essential. Partial or total restrictions on destructive or extractive activities in some zones will become a key strategy, as will the creation of scientific and sanctuary areas with controlled and contained human impact.
The entire fishery of Bahrain in most traditional fishing grounds, due largely to over exploitation, is in decline. Half of the people employed in Bahrain’s fishery are Asian expatriate workers, employed as cheap labour by Bahrain’s middle classes, paid on the basis of caught weight. As a consequence Illegal fishing and fishery practices are the norm not the exception. Poor fisheries management, lack of monitoring and controls, plus an open fishery policy have all aided the fisherman to contribute to this decline. The encroachment into the current fishing exclusion zones about Hawar as fisherman exhaust tradition stocks has become a regular occurrence. Left unattended such activities could impact on the integrity of the nominated area particularly if gill netting is used.
The exploitation of both gas and oil reserves thought to underlay the entire area is a major factor that could also compromise the integrity of the present purity of the proposed park area. Two Oil companies have recently been granted licenses to prospect for oil and gas in all sea areas off southern Bahrain, including all sea areas in the nominated site. The reluctance of the authorities to commit publicly to strict environmental safeguards in view of the potential and nationally important financial state return was to be expected. However, both Oil companies on the surface seem very keen to promote an environmentally friendly face and are prepared to provide both financial and moral support for conservation projects in the area. They have stated that local operations will due to the sensitivity of the area, observe and exceed all accepted international standards.
d) Criteria under which inscription is proposed (and justification for inscription under these criteria)
In accordance with Article 2 of the Convention,
The Islands of Hawar should be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List of Natural Properties since they constitute
Natural features consisting of physical and biological formations, which are of outstanding universal value from the aesthetic and scientific point of view, are a precisely delineated area which constitute the habitat of threatened species of animals and plants of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science and conservation
The Kingdom of Bahrain therefore nominates as a natural heritage site (as defined above) for inclusion on the World
Heritage List under sections 44(a)(ii) and 44(a)(iv)” the Islands of Hawar” in consideration of the fact that:
They are an outstanding example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes in the evolution and development of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems and communities of plants and animals (44(a)(ii))
They contain the most important and significant natural habitats for in-situ conservation of biological diversity, including those containing threatened species of outstanding universal value from the point of view of science or conservation (44(a)(iv))
Inclusion under Criterion 44(a)(ii)
The ecological and biological processes that are responsible for the creation of the variety of inter-tidal and coastal zones, habitats and marine eco-systems on Hawar have yet to be fully described scientifically, but they are an outstanding example of significant on-going ecological and biological processes.
Much of the dynamics of the marine environment about Hawar are dependent on the relative strength of coastal currents, tidal movements and seasonally high extreme temperatures.
Often wrongly documented as having no significant coastal or tidal movements with a very small annual tidal range of 0.4m, the islands are subject to the same meteorological oscillations that affect he entire gulf and experience similar seasonal highs and lows as recorded elsewhere in Bahrain. Experience would indicate that between the extreme low tides of March and the high tides of August tidal ranges are closer to 1.5m, an important factor in the marine ecology of Hawar’s extensive low algal covered inter-tidal flats.
Sea currents and coastal movements are much in evidence in the topography of the islands. Evidence of considerable storm surges on some Islands also would indicate such events are far more common than thought and have a major impact on the ecology and biodiversity of the more exposed low lying islands. Visual observations also indicate that the tidal regime to the east of Hawar is different in frequency and period to that experienced to the west and that most tidal movements in the east appear to be largely southwards irrespective of the state of the tide, rising or falling.
Extending northwards from what is now the Peninsular of Qatar, tidal flows and water movements generated around the Hawar archipelago differ from the dominant northwesterly wind direction. It is fairly obvious about Hawar that the most influential tidal streams or currents are from the northeast following largely the deeper waters east of Fasht Adhm and Ghumais shoals along the Qatari coast with an almost unimpeded flow towards Hawar. On approaching Hawar this body of water, less saline than those to the west, is split by the Islands into a variety of tidal flows about, around and through the island chain. In many places accelerated through narrow gaps and in the shadow of Hawar’s numerous eastern protruding headlands, to form areas of slack water and eddies of various salinity and turbidity, ideal conditions for the formation of extensive mudflats and the growth of algal mats.
Tidal flows originating to the north and west of Hawar appear to be much weaker moving on a much broader front channelled by the alignment of such reefs as Mu’tarid and Fasht Bu Thur along the western shore of Hawar. At a point close to the location of the existing Hawar Resort Hotel this coastal drift is increasingly influenced more by wind generated water movements generated by unimpeded exposure to the more open waters to the northwest in The Gulf of Salwa.
Around Hawar most of the inter-tidal and sub-littoral areas are underlain by hard flat lying or gently dipping rock, only thinly veneered by sediments, naturally providing few opportunities for extensive algal growth to develop. However, the filling with sediments over time, of the original now submerged drainage pattern and pits in the now submerged wind-eroded landscape of previous eras are thought to have provided macroalgae with the necessary habitat and promoted their substantial colonization around Hawar. This ongoing and creative process is thought to have given rise to the extensive algal covered mud banks found in the lagoons of eastern Hawar that now form a major and significant series of micro-ecosystem. Through a regenerative process of growing on their own decaying biomass the macroalgae have raised the level of the banks above the surrounding substrate. Usually these banks are covered by at least 0.5 m of water however they are occasionally exposed during periods of lowest tides. Broad tidal movements generally pass unimpeded over the banks but through the banks at Khawr Lutaid along the fringes of some and strong tidal steams have undercut the macroalgae bank to expose the underlying mud.
The strength of the various currents east of Hawar is also reflected in the shape, form and length of the numerous sandspits trailing southwards from many islands. In itself an indicator of the lack of the relative strength in the return tidal flow northwards. As this eastern tidal stream reassembles south of Ras Laleh and Bu’sadad east of Hawar it flows out into the small gulf between Qatar and Hawar. As it weakens material carried in suspension is deposited to create what appears to be on aerial images, an underwater alluvial fan now colonized by again by dense macroalgae growth.
The sweeping bays of the eastern shore and in the lee of Ras Suwad and Suwad Al Janubiyah are all areas of accretion and in places extremes of high salinity. These low energy areas vary considerably in character; parts of some are only swept by the sea at time of extreme high tide, with the depth of sediments over the underlying bedrock varying with position relative to major tidal flows and submergence times. In the many bays of the eastern shore of Hawar excepting Dawhat Al Naklah and south of Suwad Al Janubiyah extensive mats of blue green algae exist in front of the fringing heavily vegetated shore.
Between Hawar and the Islands of the Rubuds the Mudbanks are different in character and biodiversity of species colonization with seagrasses more in ascendancy. Broad tidal flows cross this channel carrying large quantities of floating detritus from other areas, the result of the seasonal die backs of sea grasses and sponges which is deposited along the coastal margins of the low lying Islands. These accumulations have with time created extensive coastal marginal marine peat beds of considerable depth in places.
To reiterate in summary, the marine environments of the Hawar Islands represent prime examples of undisturbed reference habitats that are areas of high productivity with food webs based on extensive areas of macroalgae, sea grasses and blue green algae. The are an outstanding and varied example representing significant on-going ecological and biological processes particularly the mudbanks and of the evolution of terrestrial, coastal and Island marine ecosystems, in an arid environment of extremes in temperature and salinity.
Inclusion under Criterion 44(a)(iv)
In defining the extent of the area to be nominated for inclusion within the World Heritage List, particular attention was given as a high priority to the sea area north and west, of Hawar, it’s offshore reefs and extensive sea grass meadows. Continuing field observations and past studies have indicated that it is this area that is most frequented by large numbers of the globally threatened Dugong, Dugong Dugon.
The existing Hawar protected area descriptively, constitutes “the Islands of Hawar and the seas about them” thus offers no real guarantees for the protection of the sea grass meadows on which the Dugong depend, a situation that the Kingdom of Bahrain, irrespective of the success of this application intends to rectify. As a first step in protecting this area Mashtan Island, halfway between Bahrain and Hawar, was declared a protected area in April 2002. It is hoped to protect further areas in the near future.
The shallow water of Gulf of Bahrain appears superficially to be an extremely harsh environment in which to find large herds of Dugong. Salinity averages around 50%o reaching 60%o at extremes, water temperatures follows air temperatures with maximums in excess of 38°c the norm in summer. Nevertheless throughout the year numerous observations of large herds of Dugong from 40 to over two hundred or more individuals are made in the Gulf of Bahrain north west of Hawar. Such sightings are a normal occurrence within the area being nominated particularly during cooler months when there is an increase in boating activity to note Dugong activity. Analysis of the sightings would indicate that the observations relate to three possibly four identifiable herds and represent possibly a seasonal population of around 400 to 500 individuals, including many mothers and calves. Based on the size of the some of the calves observed it has been inferred that Dugong congregate in these waters to breed, however this has yet to be scientifically proved.
Previous to 1986 the population of Dugong in the entire Gulf was estimated at only 50+/-. During the 1986 MEPA (A. Preen 1989) survey of the Western Arabia Gulf, that figure was revised dramatically upwards to arrive at an estimate of 7,307 for the entire Gulf. It is felt that this is a gross misrepresentation of actual figures and the real numbers are but a fraction of those stated. Since one, the methods used to obtain the density data did not give sufficient weight to known behavioural preference for this species in Gulf waters. That is the species’ natural instinct to herd, a feature of all observations of local Dugong sightings both winter and summer alike or the status of the solitary individuals. Two, did not restrict the propagation of the density figures derived to just the area of preferred habitat, the seagrass meadows. If this conclusion is correct the species is far more endangered than currently thought. However one significant feature of the 1986 MEPA survey was the sighting of 674 Dugong in two herds less than a kilometre apart, east of Mu’tarid. As a consequence of this single sighting Dugong were instantly declared a protected species in Bahrain waters. The 2000 MOHA Turtle and Dugong survey (I. Bell 2001) located over 200+/- Dugong again in the same general area.
The marine areas enclosed within the nominated area of the proposed World Heritage Site contain the most important significant and extensive seagrass meadows at the right depth, composition and seasonal stratification that if judged from the weight of field observations of Dugong are perfect for the in-situ conservation of this highly endangered and rare Mammal.
The cause of conservation of Green turtles, fish and shrimp stocks will also be served by the protection of the sea grass meadows
Justification for the inclusion of Hawar on the world heritage list must include and take into consideration the wealth and abundance of the Islands Birdlife. The protected status of the Islands was initiated originally on the strength of the numerical size of the Socotra
Cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis colony, the Socotra colony on Suwad Al Janubiyah is thought to represent in excess of 10% of the world population for the species and remains the largest documented for the species worldwide. Dr. Friedhelm Krupp from the EU (Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt) in 1995 estimated the percentage to be as high as 50 to 60%.
Slightly less obvious and well known but from an ornithological viewpoint just as important, are the colonies of Western Reef Heron Egretta gularis schistacea on the Islands of Rubud Al Gharbiyah and Rubud Ash Sharqiyah having potentially in excess of 10% of the regional geographical population.
The substantial tern colonies including Arabia’s only documented colony of breeding Caspian Terns Sterna caspia. The Sooty Falcons Falcon concolor, the Osprey Pandion haliaetus, the tens of thousands of migrant wader gulls and Flamingos, all add to the importance of the Islands from an ornithological viewpoint. The loss of a single element of coastal feeding or breeding habitat for these species would be a disaster.
The Hawar Archipelago as a whole is an ornithological Elysium, a site of outstanding and immense International value. Much however of it’s ornithological vitality and variety is dependant on the wealth and abundance of the ongoing physical and biological processes that have created the multiplicity of exceptional pristine and unique, inter-tidal and coastal zones, of habitats and marine eco-systems and the food chains they support.
a) Description of Property
The Land surface area of the Islands of Hawar encompasses over 50.00 Sq kms, 8.5% of the 581+/_Sq kms nominated. To describe the property, it’s physical and biological formations; it is first necessary to understand in part the Geological processes that gave rise to the area.
Bahrain and the Islands of Hawar are set in an area that is regarded as one of the most stable areas geologically, worldwide. Dramatic tectonic movements have had therefore little impact on the creation of the islands. The current visible physical topography on and offshore is but a small window on a landscape that has evolved during recent geological times reflecting periods of innumerable changes in sea level, of submergence and subsequent re-emergence.
During periods of glaciation the entire archipelago was dry land, a part of a drainage system or catchment area that linked the Arabian peninsular with the Tigris and Euphrates river basin, draining through a dry Arabian gulf. These were periods dominated by Aeolian activity, of extreme shammals (wind storms), of the deposition of large quantities of sand from the Arabian Desert and the creation of the wide variety of wind-sculptured and sand blasted landforms, processes still visible on Hawar. It is probable that the now sub-tidal drowned wadi drainage pattern of the islands developed during these dry periods.
Periods of submergences of the landscape exposed to marine influences the islands limestone core, earlier coastal deposits and the underlying strata resulting as sea levels stabilized, in the formation of Hawar’s cliff formations and the ongoing processes of sedimentation and accretion.
The underwater profile of the nominated area ranges from 20m in depth in the southwest to the extensive inter-tidal rocky and algal covered beach flats around Hawar. Habitats separated by extensive terraces of subtidal seagrass beds broken only by the reefs of Mashtan, Mu’tarid and Fasht Bu Thur. These reefs, possibly originally Aeolian structures similar to that of the central Jebel on Hawar have long since been modified on submergence by the ongoing marine processes of sedimentation and accretion and represent the southwards limit of substantial coral growth into the Gulf of Salwa of corals. The small reef of Fasht Bu Thur (approximately 100m) long has 65% coverage of Porites nodifera with examples of Cyphastrea microphthalma and Siderastrea savignyana. These species are thought to be the most saline resistant coral species recorded to date existing around Hawar at the very edge of their tolerance.
Three species of seagrass dominate the terraces, Halodule uninervis, Halophilia stipulacea and Halophila ovalis. The most common and possibly most tolerant to the wider range of environmental parameters of salinity and temperature extremes is Halodule uninervis which attains a coverage of over 70%. Directly associated with the seagrass beds are the epiphytes and epifauna, many living permanently on the grass blades (e.g. tunicates, sponges, hydroids and many of the smaller algae), while others use the grass as a temporary habitat (e.g. pearl oysters spats).
On the west coast of Hawar the subtidal area slopes gently away from the island for over a kilometre to a depth 8 10 metres. This is an area of hard rock substrate with a thin veneer of sand supporting a mixed flora and fauna, each taking advantage of the separate components of the habitat. Detritivores exploit the sand/sediment layer over the rock, as do errant polychaetes. Blue green or diatomaceous algae grow over the surface of the sediment. The occasional exposed rock surfaces support macroalgae such as Sargassum Sp and Hormophysa triqueter with epiphytic sponges as well as variety of hydroids. Where the sand veneer is absent, such as west of the island of Rubud Al Gharbiyah, green algae colonise the rock. Around many of the outer islands are examples of unique rocky intertidal habitat that run into equally unusual rocky subtidal areas of small cliffs and overhangs. Exposed rocks support a large cover of the red algae Laurencia sp, with large clumps of Sargassum beneath the overhangs and occasional coralline algae. Largely undocumented these habitats are not represented elsewhere in Bahrains marine environments.
Blooms of blue-green algae in the summer cause as a consequent an increase in smaller herbivorous and detrital feeding fish in the area which in turn, leads to a related increase in predatory fish, which possibly time their breeding season to coincide with this abundant food supply. Phytoplankton levels increase during early summer and the transition period into winter with as a consequent an increase in shoals of plankton feeding fish and a similar increase of larger pelagic predatory species. It is apparent that both the habitats and their associated flora and fauna are closely adapted to seasonal variations, with transition periods between the extremes of summer and winter, of great importance as spawning, breeding and blooming periods
Much of the breeding and feeding activity of Hawar’s seabird populations can be directly related to these natural seasonal variations in fish stocks within the area under nomination. The presence of large shoals of Sardinella sp in late summer about, around and under both natural floating detritus and man-made shade areas is of major significance to many Tern species in particular.
The physiology of the marine environment around the main island of Hawar changes dramatically from west to east The Islands of the Rubuds act as the dividing point between, in the west the higher more saline open sea of the Gulf of Salwa and to the east of the main island of Jazirat Hawar the dynamic shallow coastal habitats around the smaller Islands. In a similar fashion the topographical of the islands east to west is also just as different.
The gently sloping strata of the islands when viewed from the west masks the contrasting appearance of the cliff fringed eastern shore and the eastwards protruding headlands (maximum height 14m). The line of cliffs extends along and fringes much of the southern perspective of all the headlands which now stand back from the shore, fronted by subqa or mudflats fringed at the shore by dense halophytic plant growth. Between many of the headlands are further enclosed sweeping shallow bays.
Relic areas of carbonate formations have also been eroded and cliffed to create the cliff lined Islands of Umm Hazwarah, Ajirah, Al Hajiyat and the sea stacks of Wakur. In all areas of coastal cliff, the intertidal zone is also different being a relic of the receding cliff face interrupted by steep beaches of shingle and scree. Umm Hazwarah is a unique island in itself in that it has a central wadi system complete with an inner rim rock formation of enclosing escarpments.
Substantial differences can also be found between the topography of the larger Islands of North and South Suwad. The interiors however are overall similar in many ways to areas found on the main Island of Hawar in that both islands have extensive areas of weathered surface pavements similar to those found on Hawar but at much lower elevations. On North or Suwad Al Shamaliyah numerous small but well vegetated depressions cover the pavement areas and are home to flora not found elsewhere on Hawar. On South or Suwad Al Janubiyah a variety of aeolian features stand out in the general landscape. Circular structures constructed from horizontal bedded aeolian sandstones have been identified as prehistoric burial mounds.
Many of the smaller islands are little more than sand or shingle accumulations on areas of exposed bedrock moulded by the ongoing processes of sedimentation and accretion. The intertidal zone about these islands varies according to expose to tidal or weather induced influences however the coastal fringes irrespective of perspective are all generally heavily vegetated by dense growth of halophytic plants dominated by Arthrocnemon macrostachyum. In many places these plants act as stabilisers to fix low coastal dunes. The centres of most low lying Islands including the Rubuds are often devoid of vegetation and are of blistered and salt encrusted subkha surfaces and cerithid rich sand.
The main Island of Hawar is to a certain degree an amalgam of many of the elements of the outer islands topographically speaking. The Island has been improperly used in some areas by defensive military activities however; a program of restoration by the BDF is currently in progress. Fortunately minimal damage has been done to its’ prime topographical features.
Along the entire west coast a beach ridge complex forms a continuous fringe of loose shelly sand, formed mainly of cerithid gastropods. Coastal drift continues to add to this complex structure. At its southern extreme the beach ridge complex extends southward to join with Hawar with its long tail. The Tail or Hadd is an exposed ridge of calcified conglomerate, made up largely of circular pebbles strongly cemented together to form an almost continuous narrow ridge that extends the Island many kilometers into the sea southwards towards the Qatari peninsular. The origins of feature have never been properly described. A similar formation links across the intertidal zone the three Islands of Hajiyat.
Another feature enclosed by the beach ridge complex is the extensive nebkha vegetation dunes north of the Hadd. Formed behind the fringing beach ridge complex the dunes have been fixed by halophytic vegetation that now forms scattered thickets over the continually developing dunes.
In the north of the main Island the growth of the beach ridge complex formed a protective barrier joining what would have originally been two distinct Islands. In the shelter of which extensive accretion flats developed creating a large intertidal inlet that is progressively enclosed eastwards by a line of protective escarpments at its extremities north and south, The escarpment ridges narrow down to almost join at the point where the inlet joins the eastern lagoons forming its’ narrow mouth. The mouth of the inlet was dammed in 1986 by the building of a military road turning the intertidal bay into the salt encrusted supra-tidal flats found today. Plans exist to restore tidal regime to the inlet.
The western slope of the island is rather passive in nature. The coastal vegetation is fairly uniform and dominated by only a few halophytic species, however as it rises with the gentle tilt of the Island it is punctuated by shallow sand or silt filled depressions that offer a more diverse vegetation including thickets of thorn bush. The extensive historic manmade surface water collection system on Hawar also made use of these depressions with the construction of small tanks or cisterns at their lowest points of drainage.
The vegetation of the western slopes finally gives way in the east to the sparse moisture dependant flora of the higher elevations of extensive surface pavements and exposed bedrocks. However eastward draining wadis that punctuated this area can add a flash of green after seasonal rains. Many of these wadi systems drain directly out over or cut through the eastern rim of cliffs exposing the underlying strata. Adding to the stark contrast of the eastern side of the Island dominated as it is by heavily weathered overhanging cliffs, escapements and isolated mesa and in the lee of the protruding headlands separated from the sea by extensive coastal subkhas and algal covered mudflats. The coastal fringe of these areas are once again dominated by halophytic vegetation which in some areas have successfully colonized the subkha and created small areas of nebkha dunes.
On Ras Laleh the most striking and southerly of all Hawar’s headlands, the exposed escarpments on its southern aspect have taken the form of an open amphitheatre. Here wind and time have formed an almost surreal landscape of outstanding natural beauty. Open to southeast the normally jagged landscape of the escarpment has been smoothed and rounded, molded by the wind funneling through an opening on the northwestern side. The floor of the arena comprises of fine wind blown particles taking their colour from a mix of the yellows and whites of the surrounding escapement it is totally devoid of vegetation. The arena is enclosed on the seaward side by a substantial aeolian projection at its northeast corner the catalyst for the trailing coastal deposits that enclose the balance of the feature.
b) History and Development
Little documentation now remains of the once vibrant subsistence economy that once peopled Hawar even though the settlements were abandoned within living memory. The most obvious signs of this recent chapter of Hawar history is found on the islands themselves by way of the ruins of the old villages, the graveyards and the surface water collection systems.
From this evidence one can assume that the population occupied three village sites. The best preserved and possible last abandoned is that found on the shore of the northern circular bay of Dawat Hawar. Several complete building known to have been refurbished in recent times including the ancient Mosque still survive. Associated with this village is a small hunting lodge built in the 1930-40’s for Bahrains’ Ruling Family.
The Island of Hawar were apparently first surveyed by the British East India Company (Honourable Company Marine) in the 1820’s, at that time they were called the Warden’s Islands with the largest island named Al Howakh (Hawar). That survey indicated two fishing villages on the islands.
One Kilometre south of the Hawar resort Hotel are the ruins of another village. One building has been renovated for use as a shelter for the free ranging herds of Addax.
On the eastern shore, the only evidence of a permanent settlement is that found close to the shore under the escarpment face north of Dawhat Al Naklah. Associated with this small village or extended family unit are a number of water cisterns, a millstone, a wadi dam and several cemeteries. Facing eastwards it is most probable that this community in particular, made full use of the all the natural resources that Hawar had to offer, including the collecting of birds and their eggs and full exploitation of shellfish and fish stocks. The size of the buildings at this site would indicate that a higher level of affluence was also attained than at other settlements, the pieces of Chinese salt glazed pottery that can still be found at this site are indicative of that affluence. It is has been documented that both Dugong and turtles were hunted sustainably and eaten by the village communities on Hawar as were the eggs of Socotra Cormorants.A small number of prehistoric sites are present in the landscape of Hawar. However it is most probable that continuous historic use of the same natural resources until recent times has resulted in more such remains being obscured by recent human activity.
The date and origins of the surface drainage system on Hawar are unknown. Comparison with any local Bahraini or Qatari feature is impossible. In Bahrain the ancient Dilmon Civilisation developed around a plentiful supply of Water, whereas Qatari culture is based on a nomadic herding economy. The only known similarities that can be made are with the Island communities offshore from Abu Dhabi. Interestingly some pottery shards collected on Hawar were tentatively identified as originating in what is now the UAE.
Besides existing on a traditional subsistence economy the islanders were also actively engaged in the pearling industry, although to what extent it is not known. The mining of gypsum has also been accredited to Hawar and appears apparently in references to the Islands during the period of British protection. Evidence of such mining activity have yet to be found physically on the islands but many of the traditional homes of families associated with Hawar in Bahrain are said to contain elaborate ceiling designs made from Hawar gypsum.
The building by the British of the existing small police fort on Hawar in 1937 and the building of the prominent Cairns still visible on all islands are the only visible evidence of British evolvement with the Islands.
The physical isolation of the islands became more and more acute for it’s people in the late 60’s; modern facilities such as healthcare and education were nonexistent. As motorised fishing boats became more readily available the people of Hawar abandoned their settlements and moved to the fishing villages of southern and western Bahrain, so that by the time of Independence for Bahrain in 1971 no people remained on the Islands.
The garrisoning of Hawar by the Bahrain Defence Forces resulted in a permanent head quarters being established 1984 in the north complete with Hospital, power station, water desalination plant and deep-water jetty. The Hospital now provides medical services for both military and all visitors to the Island. The power station powered by diesel generators has sufficient capacity currently for all the islands needs. The deep-water jetty is used by Hawar Ferries. Potable water however remains at a premium as the flash plant produces insufficient for all current needs. Additional supplies are barged in on a regular basis. Deep exploratory water wells have recently been bored only to find extremely saline aquifer water.
Between 1986 and 1988 around 100 re-cycled prefabricated chalets were move to two sites on Hawar. In the north to sit around Dawat Hawar Bay and to a central site at what is also now the site of the Hawar Resort Hotel. Rented out mainly to Bahraini families and fisherman, the two developments were originally run by staff from the Central Municipality.
Despite the current round of oil exploration being undertaken in the area, the Islands of Hawar have in fact been the subject of oil exploration before. Between 1939 and 1960 a series of exploratory surveys and drillings were apparently undertaken around Hawar culminating on February 25th 1961 with the drilling to a depth of 8,200 ft of a well named Hawar No. 1 on Suwad Al Shamaliyah. It turned out to be a dry hole with only trace amounts of oil being found. A dilapidated jetty, a graded tack across the Island and a small dirt mound are virtually all that remain.
The site occupied by the southern Chalets was further developed in 1996 with the addition of the small 40 roomed Hawar Resort Hotel and four two storey self-catering apartment blocks. On completion of building works the Hotel and apartments were leased out to a local Hotel chain. The owners of the site, a consortium of various government Ministries known as the Southern Area Development Company SADC retained the chalets.
Visitors to both the Hotel and the Northern Chalets are currently restricted in their movements and other than bus trips along the single tarmac road joining the two sites are generally not allowed to leave the fenced enclosures.
In 1998 40 or so MOHA housing units were built as part of a development plan. Conceived to be the nucleus of a new community on Hawar; the completed units currently remain unoccupied.
In 2001 a 4-meter deep-water channel was completed, dredged through the rocky substrate on the western shore of Hawar. A substantial rock armoured jetty was constructed to service the new channel. Material cut from the channel was used to create the jetty and two artificial Islands, stated at the time to be temporary. The future environmental consequences of the design of the jetty and it’s total disregard of known natural ongoing coastal processes i.e. that responsible for creating and maintaining the existing beach ridge complex of the western shore, will be predictably negative.
Recently development offshore from the Hawar Hotel by the owners of the site SADC have been initiated in the form of personalised manmade Islands. Undertaken in the very public arena of the Hotel coastal water this development has from been the subject of much open public criticism and debate. The development is currently under review as a full environmental impact assessment survey in being carried out.
c) Form and date of most recent records of site
As a site that was and is still to a much lesser degree under military rule, the restriction placed on access have limited the ammount of open scientific research that has been carried out into the Island biological diversity.
° The Wild Flowering Plants of Bahrain; Cornes and Cornes (1989)
° A botanical survey of the Islands was undertaken in March 2001 by staff from Arabian Gulf University, the results are currently being prepared for publication by the University Press.
° Surveys of the aviflora of the Islands was initiated in 1998; Results in the form of a book - The Breeding Birds of Hawar. H M King (1999)
° The Bahrain Marine Habitat Survey Ministry of State for Municipal affairs and Environmental Affairs and ROPME (1984).
° Bahrain Natural History Annual Report 1977 – 1984; Reports and Publications contain reference material pertinent to Hawar
° The Protected Area of Hawar;. Prof. Dr. I Al Madany and Z. Khunji, NCWP (2002)
° Comprehensive and complete aerial photography, at a variety of scales taken on average at ten year interval from 1951 to present are held by the Ministry of Housing and Agriculture
The Islands have been recently mapped by the Survey Directorate, MOHA to compliement the exisiting small scale mapping coverage. Full digital mapping should be completed by the end of 2002
d) Present state of conservation
In general the outer Islands can only be regarded as being in pristine condition. Impacts of human activities on these islands both past and present can only be regarded as negligible.
There is no doubt that the military have had an impact on the main island however the military presence on Hawar has to be viewed positively. Without the associated restrictions placed on the Islands since 1986 it is highly likely that the integrity of Islands would most certainly by now have been compromised, as is the case elsewhere in Bahrain. Settlement of the boundary dispute came at a time when environmental issues and the maturity of State were equal and appreciative of the unspoilt nature of the Islands.
The military restriction on public access to the Islands has been extremely effective in protecting the Islands and in keeping illegal activities to a minimum. BDF and Coastguard personnel are responsible for the successful prosecutions of eggs thieves in 1998 and illegal fishing more recently. Their positive actions have acted as a strong deterrent to all.
The personal litter of military personal and superficial debris however does remains a minor problem at many cleared locations;
° Military tracks and defensive structure at their peak disturbed approx. 20% of the surface area of Jazirat Hawar.
° Since the successful conclusion of the ICJ hearings, the military usage of 75% of established tracks has ceased totally.
° Over 50% of all military structures have been removed.
° The open rubbish tip on the north flank of Ras Suwad initiated by the BDF in view of the sensitivity of Hawar has not been properly managed.
Environmental pressure on the municipal authority now the current responsible agency to undertake a waste disposal management plan has seen no improvement on site.
The total removal and restoration of this site is proposed under the new Hawar Master Plan.
° At the BDF HQ camp, solid waste material is currently partially processed before being disposed of through the use of open ponds using native grasses as filters before being allowed to drain into the open desert. Grey water is processed for recycling.
The quantities involved are very small but overall the process appears to be environmentally sustainable, with the site attracting numerous passing migrant birds mostly passerines and small waders.
Rubbish floating in from the north of Hawar is constantly polluting the north facing coasts on exposed Islands.
The isolated wheel marks of vehicles that accessed the outer islands during the 1997 seismic survey have already started to disappear particularly on many salt encrusted surface areas. Time will be required over other substrates types.
The origin of the Gazelle on Hawar is not known; Gallagher and Harrison wrote in 1974 “three gazelle were regularly seen near the Police Fort on Hawar and that it was thought that ten Gazelle survived there”. Research into references of Gazelle on Hawar or the Warden’s Islands in old East India Company records and other written accounts at the Royal Court in Bahrain is currently being undertaken.
The use of the word “survive” by such an eminent writer as Michael Gallagher is interesting. The herd could well be a remnant of Bahrain’s native Gazelle population long thoughts lost or contaminated by the introduction into Bahrain by other Arabian species.
A brief two-day survey of Hawar by 33 Bahrain Natural History Society members in May 1977 recorded 15 gazelle.
Current numbers are thought to now total close to 300 individual animals. A physical count is planned this summer (2002) after the completion of the Gazelles annual breeding cycle.
Funding for Genetic or DNA studies to determine the relationship and purity of Hawar’s and other Bahrain populations of Reem Gazelle is actively being sought from private donations by the NCWP.
The same staffs from Al Areen, from the time of the parks inception in 1976 until the present date have tended the herds of gazelles on Hawar; they state that over thirty gazelle were present there at the start of their stewardship.
Ornithological record - Species observed
H.M.King, Bird Recorder for the Bahrain Natural History Society, who maintains the ornithological records for Bahrain including the Islands of Hawar, provided the following lists.
Ornithological record - Species observed
° The numbers of species breeding as recorded for the islands has not changed since the 1998 survey
° The number of Socotra Cormorant reported in decline in 1998 has now stabilised, overall numbers seem to be slowly increasing again as the colony recovers from the natural disasters that overtook it in 1997.
° The number of breeding pairs of other key species remains fairly constant
° However the numbers of breeding larks on the main Island does seem to be in decline requiring investigation
One further Osprey Nest was located in 2001 bringing the total of nests on Hawar to 44 – it should however be noted that breeding pairs are regularly observed maintaining more than one nest. No correlation between numbers of nest and breeding pairs has been established.
Key Breeding Species
Table 2 Key breeding species
White-Cheeked Tern, 3358 3500**
Bridled Tern 1725 1620**
Lesser-Crested Tern, 644 752
Caspian Tern 28 17
Sooty Falcon 15 12
Western Reef Heron 325+/- 289+/-
Osprey 20 17
Numbers are for breeding pairs
Note; ** Estimated from partial survey only
The release and introduction of Arabian Oryx, Oryx leucoryx, Addax, Addax nasomaculatus and Nubian Ibex, Capra ibex nubiana on Hawar predates the protective legislation for Islands. The small herds numbering currently around 30 for each species are managed by the NCWP based at Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve. The animals have been on the islands for over 15 years and were originally part of captive herds held at Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve.
Al Areen became operational in 1979 and was commissioned personally by His Majesty the King, Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa while heir apparent.
As breeding herds of threatened and endangered species; the free ranging herds on Hawar have been a spectacular success, numbers are steadily increasing. Oryx and Addax range over much of the Islands, Ibex restrict themselves to the area of the central Jebel. There are no plans for the removal of these Herds of endangered mammals from Hawar. The animals have proved a tremendous assert in advertising the protected status of Islands.
Previous to 1986 the population of Dugong in the Arabian Gulf was estimated at only 50+/-. During the 1986 MEPA survey of the Western Arabia Gulf, that figure was revised dramatically upwards to arrive at an estimate of 7,307 for the entire Gulf. A figure derived from density data based on aerial counts. One feature of this 1986 MEPA survey was the sighting of 674 Dugong in two herds less than a kilometer apart, east of Mu’tarid. The 2000 Bahrain Turtle and Dugong survey located 250+/- Dugong again in the same area. Analysis of recent visual sightings of Dugong north and west of Hawar (August 01 to May 02) indicate that only around 400+/_ individuals, including mothers and calves populate Bahrain’s entire southern waters. A much lower figure than might be expected based on the 1986 data however it is thought that the 1986 survey considerably over estimated numbers in not weighting the data sufficiently in favour of the Dugong’s herding behavior or in restricting area calculations to encompass only preferred habitat.
It is felt locally that population trends based on available data cannot be determined and that the only conclusion that can be reliably derived from that data is that; the area of the proposed World Heritage Park, encloses a substantial part of a known preferred habitat, one that provides given the constancy of observations over the years, of large herds of Dugong including mothers and calves in the area, a unique and essential habitat that meets a very specific need or requirement during the breeding or life cycle of the species.
Under Ministerial Order No 1 of 2002, establishing Mashtan Island as a Nature Reserve, restriction on the use of gill nets in Bahrains waters south of Mashtan Reef are currently being sought. The Fisheries and Marine Resources Directorate have recorded the accidental netting of a small number of Dugong in the past. The commercial trawling for shrimp is already banned in Bahrains southern waters.
Other Native Mammals and Reptiles
No information is available on population numbers; data and observations often historic in nature are therefore derived from published accounts in accepted journals. The most complete record for the Islands are contained in the Journals and Annual reports of the Bahrain Natural History Society.
Antidotal evidence has been used only when confirmation that a particular species is in fact still present was required. Unpublished information when used has been identified by its source.
List of confirmed Species
° Pipisttrellis kuhli ikhwanius (Pipistrellis Bat)
° Lepus capensis arabicus (Desert Hare)
° Jaculus jaculus vocator (Three toed Jerboa)
° Meriones crassus crassus (Sundevall’s Jird)
° Sousa chinensis (Indo- Pacific humpbacked Dolphin)
° Tursiops truncates (Bottlenose Dolphin)
° Gazella subgutterosa marica (Reem Gazelle)
° Dugong dugon (Seacow or Dugong)
° Coluber ventromaculatus (Rat Snake)
° Chelonia mydas (Green Turtle)
° Sea snakes (Various unidentified)
° Uromastyx microlepis (Spiny tailed Lizard or Dhab)
° Acanthodactylus cantoris schmidti (Fringe toed sand Lizard)
° Eremias brevirostris (Short nosed Lacerta)
° Scincus conirostris (Sand Skink)
° Mabuya aurata septmaeniata (Common Skink)
° Various unidentified (Rock and House Geckos)
A continuing program for the capture and removal of feral cats from the main Island has been successfully initiated by the NCWP. Over 200 cats have been removed to date.
e) Policies and programmes related to the presentation and promotion of the property
The Kingdom of Bahrain recognizes that it has an obligation to ensure that it preserves, protects and conserves part of its National natural heritage for the benefit of future generations and uses the following protocols
° Royal decrees and Ministerial Orders to issue laws that provide for the establishment of Protected Areas and Wildlife Protection
° Has nominated the NCWP to act as the prime agency for the promoting and managing of Wildlife Protection as directed by all Decrees, Edicts and Orders, the basis of all laws in Bahrain
° Has stipulated that the Ministry of State for Municipality Affairs and Environmental Affairs ensure national compliance with and the application of all Decrees, Edicts and Orders concerning environmental protection
° There are no restrictions other than those stipulated in their charters, on any agency in the manner in which they exercises their appropriate functions. They may also seek international assistance, co-operation and technical advice including financial support when thought appropriate.
Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve is the perfect example of Bahrains commitment to preserving for the future not only its own but also Arabian natural heritage. The Park initiated in 1976 on the personal directives of His Majesty the King; Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa while Heir Apparent was the first such reserve in the Middle East. Although the prime objective of the park was the preservation of representative and endangered desert habitats and the flora and fauna that inhabit them. Educational and recreational aspects of conservation have from the outset established Al Areen as the leading such institution in Bahrain and the region as a whole.
It is from the success of Al Areen and the interest that it has developed at all levels of society, that has lead to the development of Bahrains increasingly effective and active measures for the protection, conservation and presentation of its natural heritage. Educational trips to Al Areen have now become a standard and accepted part of all schools curriculum both in the private and public sectors. A positive step in creating and encouraging acceptance of conservational objectives and the drawing of natural heritage into the life of the community.
The Physical Planning Directorate (PPD) at the Ministry of Housing and Agriculture (MOHA) is responsible for development plans in Bahrain. They were asked in 1997 to prepare a Master Plan for Hawar. On its presentation, it was found inappropriate for a protected area.
In 1999 the firm of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo were asked to prepare a conceptual Plan for the development of Hawar as a tourism and leisure destination. They presented the Hawar Islands Action Plan, in June 2000. In 2001 the Hawar Development Committee was established to consider the action plan. Parallel to this several International and National conferences and seminars featuring Hawar had voiced publicly their concerns about these development plans and the future of Hawar. The Action Plan as presented did not appreciate local sensitivities about Hawar, local cultural and environmental issues and the current political situation. MOHA special project staff entrusted with the coordination of the project with the consultants have since been requested officially as a consequence of concerns expressed by the NCWP and Environmental Affairs to developed a plan more consistent with Hawar’s protected status.
The MOHA have been requested to ensure that any new Hawar Master Plan include as it’s primary function that which is required for the identification, protection and conservation of Hawar besides measures relating to the development of tourism infrastructure.
97% of the land area of the Islands is termed what is locally known as Government Land, open space not subject to registered title or claim; Administration of the land is as directed by the Royal Court directly or through a designated agency such as Ministry of Housing and Agriculture. Although other agencies might plan or even subdivide Government land only the Royal Court since 2001 can Gift, title, allocate or approve changes of usage.
In the northeast of the main Island such areas as that of the Old Royal Lodge, Mosque and Old Police Fort are separately maintained. The BDF and Ministry of Interior (Police and Coastguard) have been granted exclusive rights of usage in respect to their facilities on Hawar. The two current tourism development sites, sites of the original Chalets, which include the Hawar Resort Hotel, are legally defined.
All archaeological sites, pre and post Islamic are subject to protective orders irrespective of other legislation
The Hotel compound and southern chalets are owned by The Southern Area Development Company SDCO, a consortium of Government shareholders; The Pension Fund, The General Origination of Social Insurance, The Ministry of Housing and The Housing Bank, they are responsibility for development of the site. Company operations are controlled from the Housing Bank. The Northern Chalets around Dawat Hawar are operated by the Southern Area Transportation company a subsidiary company of the Housing Bank (these chalets were previously run by the Central Municipal Council). The Housing Bank is a semi autonomous government Bank currently part of MOHA, it specialises in providing government housing loans to Bahraini Nationals.
b) Legal status
All land on Hawar is included within the protected area and is subject to all and any Royal Decrees or Ministerial orders governing Hawar unless expressly excluded.
Details of land ownership are held at the MOHA.
c) Protective measures and means of implementing them
Royal Decree, No. 2, 1995,
Prime Ministerial Edict No. 16, 1996
Ministerial Orders (MOHME) for the protection of Wildlife
Ramsar agreement, 26 February 1997
Royal decree No. 3, 1997
The Islands have been a closed military area since 1986 with controlled and limited access allowed as approved by the Royal Court, various Government Ministries and vetted by the BDF. Since the conclusion of the ICJ hearing BDF activities on the island, as well as those of the Coastguard have taken on a more passive role, one of policing the protected area. Consent for access into the sensitive areas of the Islands for scientific purposes can now be obtained through the NCWP. However, until satisfactory further civilian instruments are in place, the current policing arrangement will remain with open public access restricted.
Currently, financial support for staffing and logistical support for the NCWP in respect of its additional responsibilities on Hawar have not yet been fully realized. The provision of staff accommodation and vehicles on Hawar in 2001 has enabled NCWP staff to make a start. It is hoped that the full costs involved in establishing a fully functional administration for Hawar will be provided for under the Hawar Master Plan.
Both the Coastguard and BDF have patrol boats operating around Hawar and have in the past caught and successfully prosecuted under Bahrains Wildlife Protection laws those caught collecting Socotra Cormorant eggs (1998) or illegally fishing. The 1998 prosecution is thought to have been the first for an environmental crime in the GCC. The BDF maintain regular vehicular patrols around the main Island and man a series of lookout towers with clear views of the outer Islands. Only Jazirat Hawar is occupied.
d) Agencies with management authority
Office of the Minister of Royal Court at the Court of His Majesty the King
The Office of H.H The Prime Minister
° The Minister of Defence BDF
° Minister of Housing and Agriculture
° Ministry of Interior
° Southern Area Governate
° The National Commission for Wildlife Protection, NCWP
° Ministry of State for Municipality Affairs and Environmental Affairs
° Hawar Development Committee
e) Level at which management is exercised
Superficially it varies between Ministries and from agency to agency but normally all decisions are only implemented on approvals from the highest internal authority, especially at NCWP.
f) Agreed plans related to property
Hawar Master Plan including Zoning Plans (Awaiting final approval).
SADC plans at the Hotel site are currently subject to an environmental assessment survey. Outline plans for the site thus far announced have been the subject of much public criticism.
g) Sources and levels of finance
Current infrastructure and maintenance requirements finance by budgetary nominations requested by or through various Ministries according to areas of responsibility.
SADC and SATC activities are financed directly by company funds.
Future tourism infrastructure developments including costs for establishment of Hawar Authority to be covered under the Hawar Master Plan (see appendix I)
h) Sources of expertise and training in conservation & management techniques
° University of Bahrain
° Arabian Gulf University
° Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research
° National Museum of Bahrain
° Environmental Affairs
The University of Bahrain will next semester offer courses in Environmental Science and Sustainable Development.
The NCWP has contacts with all major conservation and environmental agencies in the Middle East.
i) Visitor facilities and statistics
As a park visitor facilities are currently non-existent plans for both a visitor and field study centre are to be included in the new Hawar Master Plan
The peak tourist season for Hawar is generally regarded as May through to November. Peaks are directly related to local school holidays. Eighty five percent of visitors to Hawar are Bahraini Nationals.
The Hawar Resort Hotel recently stated it received 17,500 visitors a year. (Gulf Daily News) The Hotel operates independently and is currently leased out to the Bahrain based Baisan Group on an 11 year lease.
Booking records are minimal for Northern Chalets; an estimate of chalet usage varies from 4000 to 6000 persons per year.
Ferry services to and from the Islands are run as part of inclusive packages; accommodation and transport, to either the Hawar Hotel or SATC chalet operations as independent services. No daily scheduled ferry services run to the Islands. Day visitors are dependant on availability of boats and space.
j) Site management plan and statement of objectives
The following management plan has been suggested to the MOHA for the basis of the Hawar Master Plan
The Hawar master plan should have the force of law as its statutory instrument and provide in lieu of an outlined strategy
° Use an Ecosystem-based management system
° Define specific geographic areas or zones with boundaries so as to control development with lateral spatial separation from core areas of primary scientific value
° A vision for Hawar and describe how Hawar, in particular its coastal and marine habitats are to be managed
° Deal with the major issues for species and biodiversity management
° Encourage all to use coastal zones wisely so they continue to contribute to our lifestyles and livelihoods as well as maintaining their intrinsic values
° Set an example as a regional development management plan for a protected area
° Advocate sustainable use and development through the use of alternative technologies and materials
The Master plan must also recognised that people are an essential and integral part of Ecologically Sustainable Development and that ecosystem functions are the result of plants and animals (including humans) interacting with each other and with the physical components of their environment. The Hawar master plan therefore, should seek to use an Ecosystem-based management system that attempts to regulate the use of Hawar’s ecosystems so that we can benefit from them while at the same time minimising the impacts of development upon them so that their basic ecosystem functions are preserved
Ecosystem-based management seeks to organize human use of ecosystems in order to strike a balance between benefiting from the natural resources available from an ecosystem’s components and processes, while maintaining an ecosystem’s ability to provide these at a sustainable level.
The World Commission on Environment and Development in its Agenda 21 (1992):
° Defined the essential features of environmental systems.
° Highlighted the constraints on using these environmental systems.
° Promulgated an approach that required that evaluation of alternatives be undertaken to determine how ecosystem products services may benefit people without jeopardizing the functional integrity of the systems concerned.
Most International bodies advise that;
In recognition of the inevitability of change it is critically important in ecosystem-based management that consideration of sequential and geographic zoning be used to ensure the protection of wildlife reserve resources as a management tool to protect sensitive resources from overuse and to separate conflicting development and visitor uses.
Zoning is the process of allocating areas for particular uses. It allows potentially conflicting activities to be separated and provides for specific activities such as development, nature-based tourism and scientific study. In addition, the partial or total restriction of fishing and other extractive activities in some zones is a key strategy to facilitate research and monitoring associated with maintaining a healthy environment. Sanctuaries areas provide a level of insurance by putting something aside for the future and scientists need sanctuaries to compare and understand the impacts of development and human activities in adjacent Zones.
The Zoning Plan
The zoning Plan for Hawar will operate in conjunction with other policy and wildlife protection instruments in delivering the objective of national, economic, social and conservation requirements for Hawar to:
° Provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of Hawar, including its resources and biological diversity
° Provide, in conjunction with other legislation, a coordinated and integrated management and administrative framework for the ecologically sustainable development of Hawar
° Encourage the enhancement of knowledge of Hawar’s resources and the effect of human activities on Hawar
In its simplest form the area so designated as the protected area of Hawar will be zoned so as to contain three broad areas
° An area of land with access to the sea in which development might be considered
° Protected areas of land to be regarded as the Wildlife Reserve
° Protected areas of sea to be regarded as the Marine Reserve
Within each area further spatial separation will be defined.
General Use or Development Zone
An area of both land and sea identified to provide the development area within the Master plan area. Allowing for reasonable but sympathetic development including specific commercial or recreational activities, which are consistent with and directed by the region's long-term planning and conservation policy.
All development will be structured and controlled by the design restraints implicit in the Master Plan and by Environmental Impact Assessments.
Impact Assessments will be the responsibility of the developers or investors but the Hawar Authority will be considered the client.
Coastal strip housing/subdivisions and development will be restricted to provide public access areas to extensive areas of continuous sea front.
The Master Plan will define broad public areas of access to the shore that are a continuation or projections (corridors) from and connected to an adjacent zone.
Proposals for all developments plus any activity not considered by the Master Plan will be subject to approval from the Hawar Authority and thereafter to an Environmental Impact Assessment.
In instances, where planned activities are allowed, developers/investors shall plan and carry them out in such manner that will minimise any adverse effects and take preventive and remedial action when appropriate. The onus will be on the developer/investor to show compliance, with failure liable to prosecution and restitution fees for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion
The commercial collection of any species (flora or fauna) will not be permitted in any zone. Therefore contributing to the protection of biological diversity and ecological processes, consistent with the objectives of the Hawar Protected Area.
Hunting including Falconry and the trapping by any means of all birds and animals will not be permitted in any zone. Offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's Wildlife Protection Laws
Sports fishing within the seaward extent of this zone will be restricted to fishing by line and hook, when trolling for pelagic species only one line may be used per person.
Prohibited sports fishing activities will be, fishing using nets, underwater traps and spear fishing using gun or gaff hook. Offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's Wildlife Protection Laws
Commercial fishing will be prohibited, offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's Wildlife Protection Laws and confiscation of boat and equipment.
Domesticated and companion animals (Dogs cats, rabbits mice etc or birds) are not permitted within any zone of Hawar unless they are assisting a disabled person. Animals brought in on vessels are confined to that vessel.
Horse riding will be permitted in this zone but free range grazing by any horses and other permitted domesticated or farm animal will not be allowed. Stray or offending animals will be impounded and owners subject to penalty. The collection of naturally growing or native plant material for fodder for domesticated animals is not permitted in any zone.
The removal or collection of seaweed from beaches is permitted within the general use zones only. For collections of more than 20 kilograms a day requiring the use of mechanical means, a special permit will be required from the Hawar Authority.
The cleaning of fish or fishing gear is not permitted in any zones, other than at the designated cleaning locations approved by the Hawar Authority. This is to address the issue of large amounts of fish scraps entering these habitats. Such scraps have the potential to increase the numbers of scavenger species, decrease quantities of other species thus producing a change in species composition or structure over time.
Special development - projects of reasonable use, that cause disturbance or changes to the natural tidal flushing regime will be subject to in all instances to the most stringent of environmental impact assessments. Such development must be consistent with the vision for the area implicit in the Hawar Master Plan.
All development must minimise any adverse environmental effects and take preventive and remedial action. The onus will be on the developer/investor to show compliance - with failure liable to prosecution and restitution fees for any damage due to lack of caution or indiscretion.
General shipping is prohibited and any activity culturally alien to Hawar/Bahrain will not be allowed
Horse riding on beaches will be restricted to specific areas or bridleways defined and controlled in the zone by the Hawar Authority.
Seasonal restrictions in these areas will be applied if required to reduce disturbance to any wildlife, their feeding or breeding requirements.
(Zoning will be constantly subject to review)
An area of land or sea, where the interaction of people and nature over time will produce an area of distinctive character with significant aesthetic, ecological and/or cultural value with a high biological diversity. Such zones will also enclose all historic and archaeological sites with the minimum clearance as specified in the Master Plan.
Safeguarding the integrity of this human interaction with nature in the Transition zones is vital to the protection, maintenance integrity and evolution of the entire Wildlife Reserve in particular core areas of high scientific value.
These areas will provide open public access into the protected areas of the Wildlife Reserves to allow opportunities for their appreciation and enjoyment.
These areas should be managed to maintain the harmonious interaction of nature & culture through the protection of landscape and/or seascape and the continuation of traditional land uses with limited economic activities.
All activities and any permitted development must be in harmony with nature and the preservation of the social and cultural fabric of the community
° Maintain the diversity of landscape and habitat and of associated species and ecosystems
° Be of an appropriate scale and/or character to provide opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism.
° Encourage scientific and educational activities which will contribute to the development of public support for the environmental protection of Hawar
° Bring benefits to and contribute to the welfare of the local community through the provision of natural products
° Be subject to the most rigorous environmental impact assessment that should include any additional/further scientific studies required as specified by the Hawar authorities to complete that assessment
All recreational fishing and collecting activities will be prohibited.
The mode of access to the Transition zone will be restricted to licensed/permitted private automobile, public transportation, bicycle, horse and foot travel (hiking). By boat on surface waters by licensed and permitted operators only or by licensed personal non-motorized carrier
Vehicular traffic will be restricted through a system of permits and limited to a few specified tracks and public service operators only. Failure to comply to the general rules of movements within the zone will result in prosecution and loss of permit to enter zones. Any and all off road/track activities will be prohibited.
Waterborne traffic will be restricted through a system of permits and limited to a few specified routes and operators only. Landing at prohibited sites and failure to comply to the general restrictions on movement will result in prosecution and loss of permit to enter zones. Access restrictions will include no-access transition zones, no motor zones, idle speed only, and closed zones.
Other motorised water-based recreation activities such as boating with inboard, outboard and jet boat, jet skiing, water-skiing, para-sailing etc. will not permitted.
Walking cycling and horse riding will be actively encouraged through the creation and maintenance of tracks, bridleways and marked routes. Necessary restrictions on movement across open areas will be imposed to preserve and protect the integrity of the natural flora and fauna.
Canoeing, sailing, boating (non-motorised) Sail boarding (windsurfing) will be encouraged and permitted in designated areas. Entry into and across internal Wildlife Reserve Zones will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.
Wildlife Reserve Zone
Areas of No Development within the Protected Area with only restricted licensed escorted public access, providing for the appreciation and enjoyment of the zone in its’ undisturbed state, - a “Look but Don't Touch or Take” zone. Fishing and all other activities, which remove natural resources are prohibited as well as all those activities not allowed in General Use “Development Zone and Transition zones”
These areas are designed to encompass large, contiguous and diverse habitats. They are intended to provide natural spawning, nursery and permanent residence areas for the replenishment and genetic protection of terrestrial and marine life. To protect and preserve all habitats and species particularly those not protected by fishery or existing wildlife regulations. These reserves are intended to protect areas that represent the full range of diversity of resources and habitats found throughout the protected area of Hawar. The intent is to meet these objectives by limiting consumptive activities, while continuing to allow activities that are compatible with resource protection. This will provide the opportunity for these areas to continue to evolve in a natural state, with the minimum of human influence. These zones surround and protect core sanctuary areas that provide important habitats for sustaining natural resources such as fish, birds and invertebrates.
The main purpose of Wildlife Reserve Zone is to protect biodiversity by setting aside areas with minimal human disturbance. These zones will serve to protect and enhance the spawning, nursery or permanent resident areas of fish and other marine life. As management does not protect hundreds of marine species, the Wildlife Reserve Zones should provide for protection and allow areas to remain in their natural state. These areas will additionally protect the food and home of commercially and recreationally important species of marine life.
These areas are established to minimise disturbance to especially sensitive wildlife populations and their habitats to ensure protection and preservation consistent with the Sanctuary designation and other applicable laws governing the protection and preservation of wildlife resources in the Sanctuary. Such areas include bird nesting, resting, or feeding areas, turtle and Dugong feeding areas in addition to potential nesting beaches. Regulations governing access are designed to protect endangered or threatened species or their habitats, while providing opportunities for public use.
All Development is prohibited in these zones.
Entry into and across the Zones by land or sea will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.
Public access will only be available through the services of local guides or licensed tour operators and restricted to controlled routes of access and controlled visitation limits.
Further seasonal restrictions in any zone that can be applied to prevent any disturbance to flora and fauna, their seasonal cycles or feeding and breeding requirements as based on
° Life or seasonal cycle;
° Differences between species in sensitivity to disturbance;
° Critical approach distances;
° Shifts in colony distribution;
° Delayed breeding;
° Predation including human predation;
° Interruption to feeding;
° Stress effects and habituation.
Preservation and Scientific Research Zone
Areas set aside exclusively for scientific research with public entry prohibited and use for all other reasons prohibited. Scientific research will be under license providing for the preservation of the zone in a completely undisturbed state. The management philosophy for these areas will be determined by their primary function, the undertaking of scientific research.
Further studies that provide managers and decision makers with information that increase our understanding of the natural variability of the Islands its’ ecosystems and response to natural or anthropogenic disturbances should be financed by the Hawar Authorities
° Research at the ecosystem level to achieve and maintain the overall protection of the reserve
° Monitor and recommend changes to the system of classification and zoning based on habitat classification and conservation status as defined by hard scientific data
° Monitor conservation and reasonable use so that while the ecosystems are protected, opportunities are still provided for sustainable use and enjoyment of the reserve
° Increase public participation and community involvement in the protection of the reserve through education and information.
The Hawar authorities should provide information systems and services that meet the needs and priorities that will
° Provide environmental advice for Impact studies
° Integrate co-operation between other organisations with an interest or role in the management of the Wildlife Reserve.
° Enhance data exchange with International organisations that have a vested interest in the reserve
Hawar Master plan
Describes the (conceptual/theoretical or physical) intent of the planning authorities in outlining future development for the Islands. For the Master Plan to be effective it should evolve out of the constructive partnership between the people of Bahrain and the Authorities charged with its implementation. The adoption and implementation of the plan should however remain the responsibility of a single Authority although many others may have contributed to its initiation, development and implementation.
k) Staffing levels (professional, technical, maintenance)
NCWP Hawar operations are currently managed from their HQ at Al Areen Wildlife Park. Two staff members are permanently stationed on Hawar.
Coastguard have a boat crew of four permanently based on Hawar
Ministry of Interior Police maintain a small Garrison
BDF; an undisclosed number
Municipality workers/ labourers are supplied for maintenance and infrastructure support from SATC.
The Hawar Master Plan envisages that the following staff would be the minimum requirement for a Hawar World Heritage Park Authority and seeks to provide financial support for such an Authority
Director (E grade)
Assistant (P grade)
Secretariat and Administration
° Supervisor (P grade)
° Computer expert (P grade)
° Two computer technicians
° Two executive secretary
Marine Liaison and Protection Unit
° Supervising Marine Biologist (P grade)
° Two Deputies –Marine Biologist (P grade)
° Three Sea Rangers - experienced boat captains
° Six boat crews - three patrol of two people
° Two Mechanics
Land liaison and Protection Unit
° Supervising Biologist or similar (P grade)
° Two Deputies – graduate of land Science discipline (P grade)
° Six Rangers – three patrols of two people
° Three skilled maintenance workers
° Six Laborers
° Educational Advisor (P grade)
° Two Deputies – graduate of land Science discipline (P grade)
° Three Assistants
In respect of establishing such an Authority, The Hawar Master plan recognises that such an Authority would required
An Administration Building fully equipped to include
° Office Space
° Display Hall
° Dock and slip
° Staff accommodation
And would provide the means by which such an Authority could administer and monitor the proposed World Heritage Park.
5. Factors Affecting the Site
a) Development Pressures (e.g., encroachment, adaption, agriculture, mining)
On its establishment the management of the NCWP were placed in an unenviable position, one where their duties and responsibilities were beyond the capacity of the organisation placed in their charge. In trying to formulate a meaningful program of protection and conservation for the Islands of Hawar it has been necessary to ignore rather than overcome some of the inherited shortcomings of the organisations that preceded its formation as the future of Hawar is too important to wait until all elements of proper management are in place.
The NCWP has found that conflicting interests pose the greatest threats to the Islands.
Hawar today stands at a crossroad, the perceived notion that Bahrains National interests will be best served only by the full exploitation and development of Hawar is still firmly rooted in many minds. Even where there is a tacit acceptance of a more balanced approach Hawar’s protected status is too often conveniently ignored. It seems that ingrained within some, is a firm belief that rules are made purely for public consumption, not necessary for implementation.
The NCWP believed that the proposed development strategies as outlined for the new Hawar Master Plan should provide the necessary management tools for the administration of Hawar. In restricting future development to areas already so utilised and Hawar’s Western coastal areas through the implementation of the zoning plans, conflicts in the future can be minimised.
The coastal zones of Hawar contain all of the Islands most productive ecosystems and richest biodiversity, and are highly sensitive areas where ecosystems exist in a state of delicate by natural balance. For a small island archipelago such Hawar, all land has therefore to be regarded as being in the coastal zone.
Whatever the extent the NCWP recognise that, coastal zones are not isolated systems; polluting sediments resulting from inland activities could migrate to the coast, to degrade the health of the coastal zone. Water currents would carry pollutants and debris from coastal activities such as reclamation and the dumping of waste from one coastal zone to another. Therefore the health of one ecosystem is closely tied to the health and condition of others. The management of coastal zones is therefore of necessity, a multidisciplinary effort and has to encompass the concepts of the proposed integrated ecosystem-based management and sustainable development system for all the Islands not just the area outlined for development
Current and potential threats to Hawar Ecosystems may include
° Sediment input resulting from land clearing or reclamation for development;
° Disturbance of coastal vegetation and substrate through urban and marine development, including, jetties, boat ramps and pontoons
° Altered coastal flow characteristics through vegetation loss and engineering works
° Damage to coastal vegetation and substrate from trampling, vehicles and other human impact
° Damage to marine vegetation from boat propellers, illegal traps and nets
° Boat collisions with endangered marine species
° Illegal fishing by recreational and commercial fishers
° Coastal erosion from recurring boat wash in areas of heavy vessel traffic or higher vessel speed
° Chemical pollution and nutrient inputs from commercial and urban runoff
° Chemical pollution and nutrient inputs from, urban parks and home and gardens
° Nutrient inputs from sewage effluent disposal from septic tank overflow or unlicensed discharges
° Discarded rubbish from storm water runoff and inappropriate disposal of household or personal garbage
° Illegal collecting and poaching of eggs and birds
The exploitation of both gas and oil reserves thought to underlay the entire area is a major factor that could have serious consequence or impact thus cooperation with the Oil companies in environmental protection is an essential future requirement.
The so-called beautification – greening - around existing and proposed developments is one aspect of the opening up of the islands that is already a matter of some concern.
The encroachment into the fishing exclusion zones as fisherman exhaust tradition stocks to the north could become a regular occurrence.
b) Environmental Pressures (e.g., pollution, climate change
Oil spills with such activities moving closer to Hawar are worrying however, given the extent and level of preparedness due largely to recent historic events in the Arabian Gulf numerous comprehensive contingency plans do already exist. The NCWP will therefore before any oil or gas is extracted be requesting Environmental Affairs to ensure that such plans are updated in respect to the special sensitivities of the nominated area and the threatened species that inhabit it.
Many of the low lying islands will be impacted by any changes in sea level heights as predicted by the impact of Global Warming. The following Islands with a maximum height of less than one meter will be the most affected however it is thought that given the strength of the ongoing process of deposition about Hawar they could well become re-established in time:
Rubud Al Gharbiyah
Rubud Ash Sharqiyah
Jazur Bu Sa’adad
Similarly NCWP will be requesting strict monitoring of the waters of the nominated area for any changes in water quality or turbidity that might be directly attributable to or the result of prospecting, reclamation or dredging activity in the protected waters and regards the monitoring of any factor that could affect the health of the seagrass meadows as essential.
c) Natural disasters and preparedness (earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.)
In terms of natural disasters, Hawar is at an extreme in terms of arid climates, the probability of fire; floods or even earthquakes are not considered likely. Heavy rain during the breeding season of any given species of bird such as that seen in 1997 could impact severely on one or more species however nature has seen and dealt with many such natural disasters in the past. Human interference or undue pressure after such a disaster are controllable factors that a good monitoring system linked to a research program can manage.
d) Visitor / tourism pressures
The increase in human recreation and tourism development even though small scale envisaged on the islands and about the marine reserve given the large numbers of breeding seabirds and endangered marine mammals present will impact on Hawar.
From the movement of people on dusty dirt tracks, to wear and tear at vantage points, the opening up even with stringent rules and monitoring in place, of a largely undisturbed protected area utilised by the Military, to the public will present the authorities with some interesting unforeseen problems.
The NCWP believes that Falconry displays or shows, that have been proposed as a part of the Hawar tourism development plan, although not considered to be a serious threat are ill-conceived given the ornithological sensitivity of Hawar.
e) Number of inhabitants within site, buffer zone
In total, (excluding BDF and security staff) less than 150 mostly service staff constitute the entire semi-permanent population of Hawar
a) Key indicators for measuring state of conservation
Annual Ornithological surveys of key breeding species (see table 2)
1. Sooty Falcons
2. Caspian Terns
3. Western Reef Herons
5. Other Terns
6. Socotra Cormorants
A lack of baseline data prevents other parameters being considered however as further data becomes available other indicators could be established.
b) Administrative arrangements for monitoring property
As part of its stated duties the NCWP will within its’ existing resources continue to monitor the property. The BDF will continue to supervise the Islands in conjunction with the Ministry of Interior – Police and Coastguard.
c) Results of previous reporting exercises
a) Photographs, slides and, where available, film / video
Submitted as appendix I
b) Copies of site management plans and extracts of other plans relevant to the site
Submitted as appendix I
Al Madany, Dr.,I., Kuaji, Z., (2002) "The Protected Areas of Hawar Islands” NCWP Bahrain
Bell I., (2001) “A Preliminary Assessment of The Turtle And Dugong Populations of Bahrain and The Hawar Islands”.
MOH Internal Report
Cornes, C. D. and M. D. Cornes., (1989) The Wild Flowering Plants of Bahrain.' Immel Publishing Limited, London.
Doornkamp,J.C., Brunsden D., Jones D.K.C.,(1980) “Geology, Geomorphology and Pedology of Bahrain” Geo Abstracts Ltd. University of East Anglia UK.
Gallagher M., (1990) “Snakes of the Arabian Gulf and Oman 2nd Edition” Mazoon Printing Press Oman
Hallam T.J., Herdson, D.M. Hill M and Nightingale T., (ed.) (1977 - 1984) “Wildlife of Bahrain”. Bahrain Natural History Society, Annual Reports for
King H.M., (1999) “The Breeding Birds of Hawar” Published by MOH Bahrain ISBN No. 99901-11-00-6
King H.M., (2002) Bahrain Natural History Society Bulletin, June
Nightingale, T., and Hill, M. (1993) “Birds of Bahrain”. Immel Publishing Ltd, London
Preen, A., (1989) “Dugongs Vol. 1 The Status and Conservation of Dugong in the Arabian Region” MEPA - Ministry of Defence and Aviation Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Vousden, D.H., (1986) “Bahrain Marine Habitat Survey” Environmental Affairs Directorate Bahrain
d) Address where inventory, records and archives are held
Office of the Minister of the Royal Court at the Court of His Majesty the King
Royal Court of His Majesty The King
Kingdom of Bahrain
The National Commission for Wildlife Protection, NCWP
PO Box 28690
Kingdom of Bahrain
Minister of Housing and Agriculture
PO Box 5802
Kingdom of Bahrain
Ministry of State for Municipality Affairs and Environmental Affairs
PO Box 26909
Kingdom of Bahrain
Central Statistics Organisation
PO Box 5835
Kingdom of Bahrain
Bahrain Centre for Studies & Research
PO Box 496
Kingdom of Bahrain
8. Signature on behalf of the State Party
the undersigned, hereby grant free of charge to UNESCO the non exclusive right for the legal term of copyright to reproduce and use in accordance with the terms of paragraph 2 of the present authorization throughout the world the photograph(s) and/or slide(s) described in paragraph 4.
2. 1 understand that the photograph(s) and/or slide(s) described in paragraph 4 of the present
Authorization will be used by UNESCO to disseminate information on the sites protected under the
World Heritage Convention in the following ways:
a) UNESCO publications,
b) Co editions with private publishing houses for World Heritage publications: a percentage of the profits will be given to the World Heritage Fund;
c) Postcards to be sold at the sites protected under the World Heritage Convention through national parks services or antiquities (profits, if any, will be divided between the services in question and the World Heritage Fund);
d) Slide series to be sold to schools, libraries, other institutions and eventually at the sites (profits, if any, will go to the World Heritage Fund);
e) Exhibitions, etc;
3. 1 also understand that 1 shall be free to grant the same rights to any other eventual user but without any prejudice to the rights granted to UNESCO.
4. The list of photograph(s) and/or slide(s) for which the authorization is given is attached.
(Please describe in the attachment the photographs and give for each a complete caption and the year of production or, if published, of first publication.)
5. All photographs and/or slides will be duly credited. The photographer's moral rights will be respected. Please indicate the exact wording to be used for the photographic credit.
6. 1 hereby declare and certify that 1 am duly authorized to grant the rights mentioned in paragraph 1 of the present authorization.
7. 1 hereby undertake to indemnify UNESCO, and to hold it harmless of any responsibility, for any damages resulting from any violation of the certification mentioned under paragraph 6 of the
Any differences or disputes which may arise from the exercise of the rights granted to UNESCO will be settled in a friendly way. Reference to courts or arbitration is excluded.
………. ………………… ………………………………………….
Place date Signature, title or function of the person duly authorized
Application form Written and Prepared By Howard King on behalf of Professor Dr. Ismail Al Madany NCWP