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This letter was sent to UNESCO and the IUCN in early June 2004
as a response to the IUCN  recommendation that Hawar be reject  from inclusion on the WHS list.

 IUCN report on Hawar

In Suzhou
The State Party were able to lobby  the committee, so as to defend our case.
Logic prevailed

We came away with a deferred decision, one dependant on modifications to the boundary of the site proposed

 


 





IUCN Evaluation of Nominations of Natural and Mixed Properties to the World Heritage List

Report to the World Heritage Committee

Twenty-eighth session

28 June – 7 July 2004   Suzhou, China

 

Bahrain response to the IUCN evaluation of the Hawar Islands Archipelago


Introduction

Hawar is about species living on the edge of extremes and adaptation of endangered and threatened species that continue to thrive, despite endangerment elsewhere, in the unique conditions of the Gulf of Salwa, a sea where most other species naturally do not. An area of significant and unique ongoing ecological processes scientifically described as a globally significant biogeographical area of the Arabian Gulf. And recently recommended for nomination by two independent international scientific marine reports, UNEP/IUCN; Early warning and assessment report “ Dugong, Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories” and by UNESCO under the Hanoi Statement “World Heritage Marine Biodiversity Workshop: Filling Critical Gaps and Promoting Multi-Site Approaches to New Nominations of Tropical Coastal, Marine and Small Island Ecosystems” Hanoi, Vietnam 2002, Hawar has long been recognized internationally for its Ornithological wealth. Listed as a Ramsar site and IBA since 1997, in nominating Hawar for inscription, Bahrain is recognizing the sites essential role in the maintenance of the life cycle of the Archipelago endangered bird and marine species and the sites value as a unique tropical coastal, marine and island ecosystem.

The Hanoi Statement

Sixty-two coastal and marine, internationally and regionally recognized scientific experts attended the workshop co-organised by UNESCO and the IUCN. Participants gathered to assess the marine biodiversity of the tropical realm and identify opportunities to expand World Heritage coverage of areas of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV).

The group of experts identified seventy-nine areas of importance as tropical coastal, marine, and small island ecosystems that may merit consideration for World Heritage and recommend that, as a matter of high priority, the State Parties consider nominating sites from these areas onto the World Heritage List listing. 

List:  Areas, that the group of experts unanimously recognized to be of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) in terms of their tropical coastal, marine and small island biodiversity attributes.


Regional Priority Areas
 
Middle East: (A) List
  • Northeast Red Sea (Saudi Arabia, Egypt)
  • Socotra Archipelago (Yemen)
  • Southeast Oman
  • Southern Red Sea Complex (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Djibouti, Eritrea)
  • Southern Gulf (United Arab Emirates)
  • Hawar Islands (Bahrain)
  • Jubail Wildlife Sanctuary (Saudi Arabia), opportunity for transboundary cluster with Hawar Sanctuary, Southern Gulf (Murawah Bu-Tini area)
Hawar Islands Protected Area Management Plan  

Encouraged by the Hanoi statement, Bahrain submitted the Hawar nomination, which resulted in a site visit from a multi-disciplinary UNESCO team 4th-11th of January 2003.
The team-members were Dr. Nicholas Pilcher, Marine Biology/Ecology, Simon Aspinall, Ornithology, Prof, Dr. Ron Phillips, Seagrasses (and algae),Clare Gillespie, Miss Sarah Wood Archaeology, Henning Schwarze, terrestrial photography, geomorphology, technical assistance, Dr. Benno Boer, UNESCO Project Supervisor, Anthropogenic Impacts, Flora and Vegetation The principle report produced by the UNESCO team was the Hawar Islands Protected Area Management Plan. In the introduction the group concluded the following 

The undisturbed state of the outer islands provides an unrivalled sanctuary in the Arabian region for numerous species of breeding sea birds, while the marine environinents about the islands embody a myriad habitats and seascapes that are home to a remarkable array of marine fauna. The marine environments in 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.
 

The loss of the potential of these virtually untouched and pristine marine ecosystems, the biodiversity they support, and possible untold benefits to humankind are also factors worthy of consideration in defining the significance of the islands. The islands represent an un‑spoilt marine wetland comprising multiple exceptional and unique inter‑tidal and coastal zones, terrestrial habitats and marine ecosystems, all of international importance. They are an outstanding example representing significant on‑going ecological and biological processes, of the evolution of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems in an environment of extremes in temperature and salinity.
 

IUCN Evaluation
  (indicated in coloured text)

In view of the recommendations of two independent “Authoritative” reports contradicting the conclusion reached by the IUCN evaluation and supported by comments from specialist and scientific experts who have visited the site, Bahrain would like to clarify the following points, contained in the IUCN evaluation which had they been considered otherwise would in the opinion of the State Party resulted of a positive response for the site. 

6 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Criterion (iv): Biodiversity and threatened species

The nominated site contains the second largest population of dugongs in the world and an important percentage of the world’s breeding population of the Socotra Cormorant. However, the survival of the population of dugongs is not entirely depending on the protection offered by the nominated site as they move along the waters of the Gulf of Salwa. In addition, there are other protected areas in the region and worldwide with greater biodiversity including globally important populations of sea birds.

The Dugong is listed as vulnerable to extinction at a global scale by the IUCN; failure to take this opportunity to provide a measure of protection to part of what is scientifically proven to be a substantial population contradicts the recommendations of other UN/IUCN reports and will have serious ramifications globally especially for smaller and more venerable populations elsewhere, particularly if the same criteria is to be applied universally. There are strong indications also that the occurrence of the large herds in the waters of Hawar is related to the breeding requirement of the Gulf population, failure to acknowledge Hawar could therefore have serious and far-reaching consequences.

In reference to the UNEP/IUCN report; Early warning and assessment report - “Dugong, Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories” Compiled By Helene Marsh Action Plan Coordinator IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group, Helen Penrose, Carole Eros, And Joanna Hugues, The development of this document was funded by The World Conservation Union (IUCN) through a grant from the Peter Scott Foundation. the United Nations Environment Programme Division of Early Warning and Assessment (UNEP-DEWA), UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) Cambridge, the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, the Pew Foundation, and the School of Tropical Environment Studies and Geography (TESAG), James Cook University (JCU), Townsville Australia.

Arabian Gulf section (Pages 31 to 35) states;

Highest priority areas for protection

1. Ghagha Island – section of Saudi Arabian coastal territory between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates

2. Bahrain-Qatar – between Bahrain and Qatar south of Fasht Adhm and north of, and including, the Hawar Islands, with the northern boundary being Al Askar (Bahrain) and Al Arish (Qatar) and the southern boundary being between Ras al Barr (25°48'N, 50°34'E) and Dukhan (25°30'N, 50°46'E)

3. Bu Tinah (UAE) – central western section of the United Arab Emirates, bounded by Bu Tinah Shoal, Abu al Abyad Island and Ruwais (24°09'N, 52°44'E).

The nominated site falls in its entirety, in UNEP area (2) Highest priority areas for protection and covers a substantial area of that recommended. The nominated area, for Hawar site, (land and sea) is 581 sq kms, represents 7% of the Kingdoms Economic Exclusion Zone. Further the State Party wish to draw to your attention Item 6 Hanoi Statement noting that Bahrain is the only SIDS in the Arab world . (Total land area of Bahrain INCLUDING Hawar is only 721 sq kms)

Hanoi Statement Item  6) Recognizing that the small jurisdictional size of individual Small Island Developing States (SIDS), may limit their competitiveness for selection as World Heritage Sites, IUCN and the World Heritage Committee should take steps to ensure that SIDS are sufficiently represented as natural marine sites, or mixed sites with natural marine and/or terrestrial, as well as cultural components. While individual criteria maybe met by these sites, it is clear that their relative competitiveness remains low in comparison with larger marine ecoregions. In addition, there is often insufficient information for the clustering of multi-island sites, reducing their competitiveness in cluster and trans-boundary nominations.  Special attention must be given to SIDS, with reference to biodiversity the small jurisdictional size of individual SIDS and in particular, their marine components may limit their competitiveness for WHS selection. 

2 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Summary of natural values Up to 200 dugongs have been recorded in the area, 400 to 500 individuals are said to exist locally in three to four herds, although this is yet to be confirmed by systematic research.  

The UNEP/IUCN “ Dugong, Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories” pages 31-35 Arabian Gulf makes extensive reference to (Preen 1989a), it documents scientifically the presence of large Dugong Herds in the waters about Hawar. 674 Dugong in two herds (photograph available in report) less than a kilometre apart, east of Mu’tarid, Hawar Islands The “Preliminary Assessment of The Turtle And Dugong Populations of Bahrain and The Hawar” Islands undertaken by staff from the GBRA Australia (Bell, I. 2001), in anticipation of a full study to be undertaken later, noted a substantial herd 250 +/- in the same general area. The IUCN have to accept therefore that it is already a proven scientifically fact that herds in access of 200 are recorded regularly in the nominated area.  

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 - 1986 MEPA survey.

Bell I., (2001) “A Preliminary Assessment of The Turtle And Dugong Populations of Bahrain and The Hawar Islands”.MOHME Internal Report

Dugong Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories UNEP/DEWA/RS.02-1 ISBN 92-807-2130-5; Helene Marsh Action Plan Coordinator IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group, Helen Penrose, Carole Eros, and Joanna Hugues

King H. M. “Hawar a video diary” - visual evidence (aerial views from a helicopter) also in the same area of a part of herd numbering possibly in excess of 300 individual - mothers with calves. Video submitted to UNESCO May 2004. 35 mm slides of Dugong, aerial views and mothers and calves underwater submitted with the original application file. 

 
(IUCN Hawar evaluation) However, this population is not exclusively present in the nominated site as they move along the waters of the Gulf of Salwa
 

The IUCN evaluation does not conform to the stated aims and objectives of the IUCN and support for The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), which aims to conserve terrestrial, marine, and avian migratory species throughout their range. 

It is important to note that if a migratory animal spends a significant portion of its life in any given habitat, a scientific proven point for the dugong population in Hawar, that habitat plays a vital role in maintaining the population. The waters of Hawar are an integral point of their life history and the seagrass beds are critical to the survival of a large number of dugong. Observational records held on the Bahrain Center for Studies and Research database indicate that herding behavior of Hawar Dugong can be bracketed between early August and April with the largest congregations recorded in October through to December. Furthermore, other observational data indicates the presence of Dugong in these waters throughout the year.
 

UNEP/IUCN “Dugong Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories” there is increasing evidence that dugongs undertake large-scale movements. Migration is a factor that effects all populations  of Dugong including those already protected in Australia.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) There is also no scientific evidence that dugongs are breeding in Bahrain waters.


Breeding is not a requisite for WHS status however; although it has not been proven conclusively that dugong breed in Hawar, there is considerable observational and photographic evidence to suggest that the area is at least an important nursery area. Recent video of herds and underwater photographs of mothers and calves were submitted to UNESCO as part of the application file.
 

(Preen 1989a
). Interviewees claimed that Al Mu’tarid, where the two large groups of dugongs were sighted, was a nursery. Given that all the herds that continue to be regularly observed and recorded around Hawar particularly from late summer into winter consist of mothers with calves, it is fair to state as does the application file that something interesting is going on. The herding behavior of Dugong scientifically proven to occur in the waters of Hawar is a feature of species behavior not recorded elsewhere in the Arabian Gulf. 

Dugong Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories” ERWDA conducted aerial surveys of UAE waters in summer 2000 and winter 2001 (al-Ghais & Das 2001). (al-Ghais pers comm. 2000) no large groups were sighted during the survey.. (cont.) these survey findings support  (Preen’s 1989a) conclusions… 

It is also important to note that although Dugong are protected as a species in Bahrain the seagrass beds are not, they lie outside the boundary of the existing Hawar Island protected area, hence their inclusion in the proposed World Heritage site, which has a more extensive boundary. Sadly now given the reduced merit attributed to both the Dugong and the seagrass beds about Hawar, it will now be very difficult for the state party to raise a case locally to justify any further protection as a consequence of this IUCN evaluation. Protection for UNEP area (2) “Highest priority areas for protection” should therefore be regarded outside of A WHS context as questionable.

6 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Criterion (iv): Biodiversity and threatened species (cont)

In addition, there are other protected areas in the region and worldwide with greater biodiversity including globally important populations of sea birds.

The Islands of Hawar are a listed Ramsar site and IBA, with 23 breeding species currently recorded, one further breeding species is under investigation.  

The site contain the worlds largest breeding colony of Socotra Cormorant, Phalacrocorax nigrogularis, (20%) an endemic to the Arabian Gulf and Arabian Sea, considered threatened to endangered, vulnerable by Birdlife International. Dr. Friedhelm Krupp from the EU (Senckenberg Research Institute Frankfurt) who previously served as manager of Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary, in 1995 estimated the numbers on Hawar at 50 to 60% of the world population. (Birdlife Species Fact sheet- world population 450000 – 750000 decreasing) Only 13 colonies remain, 12 colonies have become extinct during the last 30 years, representing a potential decline of up to c 80,000 pairs (c 26% of the population). In Saudi Arabia, the number of breeding pairs declined by more than 75% during 1980-1992. In the UAE the breeding population is c 32,000 – 34,000 pairs, spread through seven colonies. (Aspinall S. The Breeding Birds of the UAE). Results of the latest aerial photographic survey for the Socotra Cormorant colony on Hawar, November 2003 indicated c 30,724 pairs (prov. figure, King H. M. Aerial survey) 

The species is hunted, persecuted, vilified, and still remains largely unprotected throughout much of its range. Offshore development along vast extents of the Gulf coastline are destroying and will continue to reduce prime habitat for both the Socotra Cormorants and incidentally the Gulf populations of dugongs.
 

Mike Jennings Coordinator of The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Arabia (pers. comm) states; It is a population that is very difficult to assess as, apart from the Bahrain colony, there is not a single breeding site where we have a clear picture of breeding numbers for two or more years running
(most colonies not surveyed since 1995).  As you say it has become extinct in many islands, the only clear trend is that the numbers keep going downwards.  In my own careful calculation of the world population from known colonies (and I do not believe that anyone has better information than my database) the current maximum population is 110,000 pairs.   If at the beginning of the breeding season there were, for each pair, another two non breeding birds, the total population would be significantly less than half a million birds. This is less than the lower limit of all recent population estimates for this species.  The Bahrain population is about 20% of the total.  Considering the numerous threats this species has to cope with from oil industrialisation in the Arabian Gulf (responsible for the lost of several colonies), oil pollution (which have impacted this species severely twice in recent years), introduced feral predators and human tourism and recreational activities, this species, nesting on a very few islands, it must be regarded as one of the most vulnerable endemic of the whole Middle East region.
 

Hawar has the largest regional population of breeding Western Reef Herons; the largest concentration of Osprey, a substantial Sooty Falcon population, the Middle East’s only recorded Caspian Tern Colony and substatial breeding populations of other terns. The Islands therefore have a breeding record not repeated at any other site protected or otherwise in the region.

In terms of International Importance - a species or subspecies is considered internationally important when the population in an area (country or site) exceeds 1% of the estimated regional biogeographical or world population for that species or subspecies. Hawar has numerous species of breeding bird that exceed 1% of the regional biogeographical requirement, including two that exceed 10% and 1 (one) species, the Socotra Cormorant that possibly exceeds 20% of a world population.

2 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Summary of natural values Annually, more than 200,000 breeding or migrating waterfowl and wintering raptors occur on the islands.

Besides its 23 species of breeding birds and ornithological attributes as described above, Hawar is a major wader and gull staging and wintering site with ten of thousands of birds present on a seasonal and daily basis. We have no records of wintering raptors other than the resident breeding population of 20 pairs (+/-) of Ospreys.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) Of the 192 species of birds recorded in Bahrain, 132 are present on the Hawar Islands.

The number of species recorded for Bahrain currently stands at 319 and has done so for a good number of years. The number recorded for Hawar currently stands at 150, lists that were made available to the IUCN.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) Other important species present in the nominated site are osprey (with 20% of the world population breeding in the site),

A TOTALLY erroneous statement if it was intended to relate to Ospey,  Socotra Cormorant - 20% world

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) Other important species present in the nominated site are Lesser Kestrel

With only three sighting records for Hawar the species does not feature on any local priority lists.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) there are other protected areas in the region and worldwide with greater biodiversity including globally important populations of sea birds.  

A conclusion the State party contests. The total numbers of individual breeding birds on Hawar is only surpassed in the gulf by treating collectively the numerous island tern colonies off the coasts of the UAE and Saudi Arabia. These Islands are individually isolated and graphically scattered along a very large area of the gulf coastline. For instance collectively the six coral cays of The Jurayd Island Chain off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Arabiya. Harqus, Karan, Kurayn, Jana and Jurayd (made famous as a consequence of the 1st Gulf war oil spills) between them, have 75,000 pairs of summer breeding terns of four species. As significant or impressive as this may be, a similar larger number of the same species are also collectively to be found scattered through the islands off the coast of the UAE. None of the tern species are considered threatened or endangered. Other than Jubail no other sites are protected or listed regionally on any tentative list either at a national or international level. Hawar has a greater variety and globally significant populations of any single site in the Gulf, offering breeding species twelve months of the year with ease of access for the entire scientific community to study irrespective of their demographic grouping.
 

Bibliography as submitted to UNESCO appendix 1 Hawar application

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”.MOHME 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 BahrainGeo 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

 
6 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Criterion (ii): Ecological processes

The nominated site contains an extensive seagrass bed, an important ecosystem for maintaining marine processes and productivity. However, this ecosystem extends along the coast of Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and, to a lesser extent, the southern coast of Saudi Arabia.

 
Prof Ron Phillips one of the worlds’ leading Seagrass experts, has provided the Sate Party with a personal report on his visit to Hawar, adding further comments since, all are summarised below, a full copy of both reports can be transmitted electronically.
 

Hawar Seagrasses


All seagrasses were in a very active state of growth longer and larger than I have seen in the Gulf previous to this trip. 
There are numerous turtle grazing patches within the meadows of Halodule:  at shallow stations where Halodule is most abundant, there is a dense, thick leaf baffle in the water column. The seagrass bed/s are producing a prodigious quantity of DOM and POM, which are known to support direct feeding food chains (turtles and dugongs in this case) and the detritus food chains, which support marine fisheries. This also indicates that the plants have been here a long time in an unspoiled state, especially since there are no epiphytes on the leaves. 

These shallow beds should be conserved. I believe that they contribute greatly to fisheries in the area, given their extent, abundance, luxuriance, and characteristics observed. There was an almost total lack of epiphytes on the seagrass leaves at all locations, indicating water devoid of anthropogenic pollution. In my experience with seagrasses all over the world, I have never observed this kind of habitat previously, It is a unique habitat. It should be conserved and research as a possible habitat should be explored.

The lUCN should also consider the green turtle populations that occur around the Hawar islands. These turtles feed exclusively on seagrass populations, which are extremely extensive around the Hawar Islands. Further, Vine (1986) stated that four species of sea turtles were dependent almost entirely on the seagrass beds around the Hawar Islands for their food. Vousden (1988) stated that the extensive seagrass beds around Bahrain were host to the juvenile stages of commercially‑important penaeid shrimp and to a number of adult fish species, e.g., Siganus spp., which represent a popular local food source. Despite environmental constraints, the seagrasses of the Arabian Gulf have been designated a critical marine resource in the Gulf because of the high productivity they provide for the inshore and offshore waters and because they provide a nursery for many commercially important foor animals, as well as providing direct food for the dugong and the green turtle (Basson et al., 1977; Jones 1985; IUMUNIEP 1985a, b; Vousden 1988; Price 1982; Price et al. 1987; Vine 1986; lUCN 1987; Preen 1989; Sheppard et al. 1992). Jones (1985) observed that seagrass primary production had an extremely important contribution to the Inner Gulf. He added that these plants were an important nutrient pool. In addition to providing a food source for green turtles and dugongs, they represented a major nursery area for penaeid shrimps, fish and pearl oyster spat. Recent studies suggested that primary production from seagrass and shallow‑water benthic algae may be of greater importance in the Inner Gulf than the contribution from phytoplankton (Basson et al. 1977; Price et al. 1983).

 However, no one should deny the critical resource value of seagrasses within the Gulf in general, or in the Hawar Islands, in particular. The seagrass meadows around the Hawar Islands are vast, luxurious, and pristine. For that reason, 1 stated that they are unique in that they still occur in clean pristine water. Any possible loss of these seagrass beds may exert refuge and feeding pressures on the animals which migrate, which have been accustomed to feeding and finding refuge there, such that they could decline. 

Thus, it can be concluded that the biodiversity within the seagrass beds of Hawar Island, since they are vast, luxurious, undisturbed, and grow in pristine water, is also extremely large. There is no reason to dispute this conclusion.


End of summary of report from Prof. Ron Phillips 

6 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Criterion (ii): Ecological processes (continued)

The geological processes associated with the evolution and dynamics of these islands are common to many marine areas in the Arab region and worldwide and it is better reflected in other sites already included on the World Heritage List under this criterion.

Hawar was not nominated for any geological attributes criterion reads Ecological processes  what about all the other elements of the Islands ecology

This statement is however contrary to geological data as presented in Doornkamp,J.C., Brunsden D., Jones D.K.C.,(1980) “Geology, Geomorphology and Pedology of Bahrain” Geo Abstracts Ltd. University of East Anglia UK,  which is the authoritative text book for Bahrain and Hawar.
 

3 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Comparison with other Areas In the Middle East region, there are other sites of similar characteristics such as the Socotra Archipelago (Yemen), declared a Biosphere Reserve in 2003, the Jubail Wildlife Sanctuary (Saudi Arabia) The site is also comparable and shares similar ecological characteristics with the Marawah Archipelago of the United Arab

Socotra is located in the northwestern Indian Ocean, some 350km south of the Arabian peninsula. The archipelago consists of the main island of Socotra (3625 km2 ) and three smaller islands, Abd Al Kuri, Samha and Darsa, and other rock outcrops (Koal Pharawn and Sabunya) and has been geological isolated from neighboring Arabia and Africa, for a long geological period of time. Thus, both ecologically and or geologically is totally unlike Hawar. Socotra in many ways, is similar to the Galapagos Islands, a true Natural Wonder of the world in that its isolation has resulted in very high levels of endemism, to be compared to Socotra although incorrect is in fact an honour.

Jubail Wildlife Sanctuary in part of mainland Arabia and includes the Jurayd Island Chain (not an archipelago) off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Arabiya. Harqus, Karan, Kurayn, Jana and Jurayd individually isolated and scattered across hundred of sq kms of Saudi waters they are all coral cays and home to large turtle hatcheries and tern colonies worthy of consideration on their own merits but geologically or ecologically there are few similarities to Hawar which has no hard corals.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) The site is also comparable and shares similar ecological characteristics with the Marawah Archipelago of the United Arab almost ten times larger than the nominated site (556,100 ha) which is classified as a Managed Resources Marine Protected Area (Category VI, IUCN)

Marawah is not a listed site it has only been identified or suggested as a potential reserve, the UAE Saudi Arabia and Qatar have not nominated any sites for inclusion on the WHS tentative list as of this date. Hawar is both a protected Ramsar site, a national protected area and a nominee for WHS. Marawah is also not an archipelago (Aspinall S; Breeding Birds of the UAE page 161) describes it as being one of the satellites to Sir Bani Yas Mewi Abu Dhabi, one of a string of coastal islands that is spread along the entire Abu Dhabi coastline. Situated in the open Arabian Gulf the ecological dynamics effecting the area are unlike those experienced in the enclosed confines of the Gulf of Salwa about Hawar. The Island off Abu Dhabi have both fresh water and mangroves, Hawar has none.

Structurally, the Abu Dhabi islands fall on the western flank of a major dome, focused on Hail Island. The latter formed as a consequence of Cambrian salt movement at considerable depth (20,000 feet +) Marawah overlies a localized deep salt pillow that unlike Sir Bani Yas or Jebel Dhanna, has not pierced to the surface. The UAE lies has well known fault and fracture lines experiencing two earth quakes last year, Hawar lies in a very geologically stable area. 

4.4 (IUCN Hawar evaluation)
Human use of the area. There is no real management of the liquid waste (directly discharged into the sea) or of the solid waste (open-fill pit). The coastal areas receive floating foam and plastics brought by currents and associated to coastal activities as well as maritime traffic. There are also reports of oil pollution associated to maritime traffic around the islands.

Incorrect - All properties, including the small 48 roomed hotel and 50 or so chalets, the few remaining military installation on Hawar are all and always were equipped with septic tanks, a regular collection system is in place to collect and transport the sludge to a small treatment plant at the BDF camp. Treated liquids are used for irrigation at the Hotel; solids are currently dried in an open pit near the BDF camp then removed from the Islands. Plans are currently well advanced to convert the existing extended aeration plant built in 1999 in the north, to receive all septic tank waste in the near future, at no time has it been permitted to discharged waste directly into the sea. The small but unsightly (open-fill pit) rubbish dump is physically being removed at this moment in time under my supervision on the personal instructions of H.H. Sheikh Abdulla the Governor of the Southern Region. The site will be restored. Currently all new waste is removed from the island but a study is in hand to investigate the use of alternatives. As to oil pollution, no reports exist locally that we are aware of thus we require the IUCN investigator to justify this comment and share his information. There are contingency plans, in hand, which we have asked the environmental agency to update as a precautionary measure.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation).Addax, Arabian Oryx, and Nubian Ibex. These introductions have been implemented as part of a wildlife restocking plan. These species are now competing with the native Reem gazelle. There are no goats but hares, rats and cats have also been introduced on this island and could threaten bird populations if transported unintentionally to other islands.

 
Addax, Arabian Oryx, and Nubian Ibex are restricted to the largest Island Jazirat Hawar, they are feed on imported alfalfa and livestock pellets.  Food is placed daily at five open feeding stations across the island, to which the gazelles have free access. These introduced species not as hardy as the gazelle do roam the island but only so as to stay close to the supply of food and drinking water, the Nubian Ibex remains exclusively around the islands two small Jebels. Certainly since 1998 the Gazelle population on Hawar has been increasing rapidly to a point where it might be necessary to remove the excess from the island to the southern areas of Bahrain. For the introduced species only the Ibex have substantially increased in numbers, 22 to 45, otherwise the herds, remain at around 30 animals per species. 

The islands have been inhabited judging from the
archaeological remains for five thousands years, it is not known when rats and cats first arrived on Hawar. They certainly were never introduced in recent times as is implied by the IUCN investigator. A vigorous cat capture campaign has been undertaken over a period of years and it is thought now less than a few dozen still remain, 200 were removed in 2002 alone. The program will remain in place until cats are totally eradicated. Cape Hares are native to the islands of Hawar and Suwad Al Janubiyah, (Hallam T.J., Et al (1977 - 1984) Wildlife of Bahrain. Bahrain Natural History Society, Annual Reports for). To supplement the local resident population some 25 hares (from Bahrain) were released in the late nineties, a misguided move that will not be repeated.  Hares do exist on the larger outer Islands.

4.5 (IUCN Hawar evaluation) Other threats Climate change and related sea level rise could have an impact on at least six of the islands with an altitude of less than one meter.

This will be a greater problem for all the coral reef sites currently inscribed on the WH list than it will ever be for Hawar. (Doornkamp, Et al.,(1980) Geology, Geomorphology and Pedology of Bahrain)  indicate that most of the low lying islands of Hawar are the result of recent marine deposits building up on and over the remnants of the underlying denuded carboniferous strata, a process that continues today, in other words the islands are still growing.

IUCN Hawar evaluation) Lack of a proper long-term land use and development planning for the main island of Hawar, including a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of tourism development.

A number of studies were undertaken by the Ministry of Housing prior to the Islands being considered for WHS nomination, these have since been labeled as inappropriate by H. H Sheikh Abdulla the Governor since conservation and protection have now been given priority over development. A new strategic plan including the development of full zoning plans is currently in hand outlines of which were provided in the nomination files. A full EIA for the STC (hotel site) was carried out.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) Dredging channels in the waters of the nominated site for routing vessels and the consequences on the water quality, disturbance to dugongs and other vulnerable marine species and impacts on the seagrass communities

Although the waters about Hawar are shallow, for boats of up to four meters draft access to the island is already available at two jetties, the natural jetty in the north, Ajirah, and the new deep water jetty on the western shore, 5kms north of the Hotel. No deep-water channel was ever dredged for access directly to the Hotel. Hotel ferryboats (32/36 ft) are fitted with outboard engines with hydraulic lift and have a draft of less than two feet. Dredging is not a requirement for or will it featured in any plans for Hawar. The new deepwater channel and the seven islets off shore near the hotel were undertaken circa 1999 and are inherited mistakes left over from a previous era.

(IUCN Hawar evaluation) Impacts associated to land-based sources of pollution from Qatar, which is only 2km away from the nominated site.

There is extremely limited land‑based pollution entering the Gulf of Salwa from Qatar, and this is confirmed by a UNESCO study carried out very recently in Western Qatar by marine biologists Dr. David Jones, Dr. Abdulrahman Al‑Muftah et al.