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Outline Hawar Master Plan

Zonation based on IUCN criteria
An essential management tool for the sustainable development of
The Hawar Protected area.

Howard King
Manama, Bahrain.

Abstract

The procedural process to nominate the Hawar Islands for inclusion on the list of Natural World Heritage sites is nearing completion. The original nomination file, the draft management plan, opinions and assessments of the panel of experts and adjudicators that have visited the site are currently under final evaluation in anticipation of the forthcoming World Heritage Committee meeting which will be held in Suzhou China between 28 June and 7 July 2004.

However conflicts, inequities or negative impacts do not go away simply because an area has been given protected status or nominated for World Heritage, it is incumbent upon and part of the responsibility of protected area managers, to provide the linkage between a protected areas status and the sustainability of all human activity in that context.  It has long been proven that protected areas cannot be sustainable unless they have a broad level of social commitment and acceptance providing cultural social and economic benefits as a consequence of protection. It is for these reasons therefore that the management of the Hawar protected area must be coordinated and provide for the integration of all human usage to deliver social progress and economic growth yet maintains the quality of our natural environment.

The IUCN and other International bodies advise for protected areas that in recognition of the inevitability of change, it is critically important that an ecosystem-based management plan be used. The most important aspect of such plans is that they utilize geographic sequential zoning as a management tool to protect sensitive areas or resources from overuse. The development of zoning plans for the Islands of Hawar, that define specific geographic areas or zones with boundaries that provide for the lateral spatial separation of potentially conflicting activities such as development, nature-based tourism and scientific study, is therefore essential in the development of a sustainable management plan for the Islands.

Introduction

The procedural process to nominate the Hawar Islands for inclusion on the list of Natural World Heritage sites is nearing completion. The original nomination file, the draft management plan, opinions and assessments of the panel of experts and adjudicators that have visited the site are currently under final evaluation in anticipation of the forthcoming World Heritage Committee meeting to be held in China, between 28 June and 7 July 2004.

As part of the nomination process the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources Environment and Wildlife had to establish an extent and corresponding IUCN protected area status for the nominated area.  Regarded as a multi-functional site by the Public Commission it was concluded that the designation for the Hawar Archipelago and surrounding seas should be, as is implied by national obligations and commitments, outlined in Royal Decrees, International Declarations and Convention Ratification, defined in general terms under the following IUCN (The World Conservation Union) classifications,

The major Island namely “Hawar” and the sea to its west to be classified as

Category II - National Park: protected area managed mainly for ecosystem protection and tourism
Definition: Natural area of land and/or sea, designated to
a.    Protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for present and future generations,
b.    Exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area, and
c.    Provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.


Whereas the balance of the protected area that being All the lesser (smaller) islands to the north, and east of the main island of “Hawar” including sea and marine environments be classified as
    
Category I (a) - Strict Nature Reserve/Wilderness Area: protected area managed mainly for science or wilderness protection

Definition: Area of land and/or sea possessing some outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological or physiological features, and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring.

Inevitability of change

Conflicts, inequities or negative impacts do not go away simply because an area has been given protected status or nominated for World Heritage (IUCN statement) it is incumbent upon and part of the responsibility of protected area managers, to provide the linkage between a protected areas status and the sustainability of all human activity in that context.  It has long been proven that protected areas cannot be sustainable unless they have a broad level of social commitment and acceptance and provide tangible, cultural, social and economic benefits as a consequence of the protective measures applied. It is for these reasons therefore that the management of the Hawar protected area must be coordinated to provide for the integration of all human usage yet deliver the required social and economic growth while maintaining the quality of the natural environment.

The IUCN and other International bodies advise therefore “in recognition of the inevitability of change”, that it is critically important an ecosystem-based management plan be used for protected areas. Ecosystem-based management plans are only in part about ecological sciences, they provide flexibility in approach and have an inbuilt capacity to accommodate change. They have a higher appreciation of the economic, social, and cultural factors affecting a protected area while seeking to organize and strike a balance between projected human uses and the protected areas ability to provide these at a sustainable level. To safeguard sensitive areas or resources from overuse the primary management tool used by such plans is “Zoning” the process of allocating areas for a particular use. Zoning provided the required spatially separation for conflicting activities or their associated environmental impact. Furthermore ecosystem plans require the definition of ecological reserve zones that act as sanctuaries for endangered species, habitats or ecosystems enacted together with the partial or total restriction on extractive activities in other zones that facilitate the maintenance of a healthy environment.

Sustainability

To succeed, sustainability has to be fully integrated into the social, economic, and environmental strategies at a national level. Wildlife protective measures cannot be viewed as superfluous, or inappropriate to national priorities, they are an obligatory duty for the present generation initiated on the international stage by the ratification of international conventions and treaties, a responsibility of principle for Government for the benefit of future generations.

The development of an ecosystem-based management plan for Hawar provides an ideal opportunity to illustrate locally that an effective administration for a protected area can be consistent with the principles of biological diversity and sustainability where sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising those of future. However it is essential that concurrent with the development of a management plan indicative indices to measure the plans sustainability be established. Worldwide, for the purpose of providing management evaluation, one of the most successful methods employed is the management of biological diversity and natural resources through scientific research and the monitoring of wildlife. Provision for the realization of such an evaluation procedure should be addressed as part of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan currently being drafted by the Environmental Evaluation and Monitoring Directorate at the Public Commission.

Precautionary Approach

Any proposed management plan for Hawar must attempt to regulate the use of the ecosystems by the application of zoning plans and require that the ecosystems be managed for their conservational value and resources in association with any ecologically but sustainable use. In view of the current lack of scientific data and biological indicators for Hawar the initiation of the zoning plans will require the application of the precautionary principle so as to

°    Conserve biodiversity for future research, education, use and enjoyment
°    Provide insurance against widespread loss or change in ecosystems, habitats or species
°    Protect processes critical to ecosystem function and use
°    Protect rare, threatened and depleted communities, species and populations
°    Provide for the recovery of degraded environments
°    Improve fisheries stocks by protecting habitat and nursery areas, preserving genetic diversity, dispersing larvae and adults to surrounding areas
°    Supplement fisheries through spill over of fish into fishing grounds
°    Create employment through sustainable use, recreation and tourism

Zoning Principles and Plans

To provide for the protection, conservation, rehabilitation, and management of Hawar, including its resources and biological diversity it is essential that the process of initiating zoning plans not be delayed. Zoning Plans are an internationally accepted primary management tool that once developed will enhance all other existing wildlife and environmental legislation, by providing a coordinated and integrated management and administrative framework for the ecologically sustainable development of Hawar. Their development will encourage and enhance scientific endeavor, knowledge of Hawar’s biodiversity, wildlife resources and the effect of human activities and impact.

However to minimise the risk of any potentially adverse environmental impacts, the highest level of protection should be considered for use to a greater rather than a lesser extent, as per the precautionary principle. The definition size and extent of the ecological reserve zones, the sanctuaries for endangered species, habitats, or ecosystems will have to exceed our current understanding of the natural variability of the Islands, its’ ecosystems and their response to natural or anthropogenic disturbances. This certainly will have to be the case until the management plan has initiated
°    Researched at the ecosystem level to achieve and maintain the overall protection of the reserve
°    Monitored and recommend changes to the system of classification and zoning based on habitat classification and conservation status as defined by hard scientific data
°    Monitored conservation and reasonable use so that while the ecosystems are protected, opportunities are still provided for sustainable use and enjoyment of the reserve
°    Increased public participation and community involvement in the protection of the reserve through education and information
As far as is possible, the Zoning Plans should present classification zones covering all the nominated Islands of Hawar and surrounding sea within both existing protected and the nominated areas for different uses with

°    A description of the activities that are permitted or not permitted in each zone including any restrictions, to effectively manage specific activities
°    Codes of Conduct (guidelines) for undertaking certain activities, which are the regulations to be adopted by developers, operators and visitors both individual and groups
°    Processes for obtaining permission from the National Authority to undertake a particular activities or development including scientific study in any zone
°    Strategy to facilitate the research and monitoring of the zones for the protection of rare, threatened and depleted communities, species and biological populations
°    Contingency plans, periodic closures and conflict mediation procedures

Rules, regulations, codes of conduct and guidelines established under a zoning plan initiate a management process that are used to control and contain current or potential development threats to the ecosystem of the protected area, threats which including the following
°    Changes to the natural tidal flushing regime
°    Coastal reclamation and sediment input resulting from land clearing or reclamation from/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, traps and nets
°    Coastal erosion from recurring boat wash in areas of heavy vessel traffic or higher vessel speed
°    Chemical pollution and nutrient inputs from golf courses, parks and gardens
°    Nutrient inputs from sewage effluent including disposal from septic tank overflow or unlicensed discharges
°    Discarded rubbish from the inappropriate disposal of household, building development or industrial garbage
°    Over fishing by recreational and commercial fishers

There are currently no set procedures or protocols in Bahrain to formulate the drafting of zoning plans for Hawar however based on internationally accepted norms, the key steps for their initialisation should include

°    Initial information gathering and preparation
°    Definition of specific objectives for each zone
°    Number type and extent of Zones
°    Prepare a draft plan
°    Public participation and consultation
°    Revision and finalisation of the draft plan
°    Adoption of the revised plan
°    Submission of the plan to Government

In an international context the number of zones used in World Heritage or Protected areas varies enormously. Factors such as landforms, geographic features, biodiversity, ecosystems or the extent of existing human usage and impact all have a bearing on the number, type and extent. Common to all adopted zoning processes however is the concept of protecting core or sanctuary areas, the following classification and usage is suggested for Hawar

Guide to Zones

Development Zones -Terrestrial

General Development Zone

An area of both land and sea identified to provide the areas in which development will be permitted within the Management plan area. The least restrictive of the zones, allowing for reasonable but sympathetic development including specific commercial or recreational activities that are consistent with and directed by the region's long term planning and conservation policy

The regulations governing development within this zone would require compliance with development and design guidelines that should include

°    General compliance with the Management plan
°    Building heights and architectural form
°    Space between buildings
°    Density
°    Waste and sewage disposal
°    Protection of the Main Island shore line and public access to it
°    Commissioning and presentation by developers of environmental impact studies as required under current National legislation as a precondition in seeking approval for the issuance of building permits
°     Commissioning and presentation by developers of engineering studies to avoid pollution
°    Proposals for all development plus any activity not considered by the Management plan will be subject approval from the National authority and thence to an environmental impact assessment.
°    In instances, where planned activities are allowed, developers/investors will 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.
°    Any activity culturally alien to Hawar/Bahrain will not be allowed
°    Hunting including unlicensed 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.
°    Domesticated and companion animals (Dogs cats, rabbits mice etc or birds) should be not permitted within any zone of Hawar unless they are assisting a disabled person. Animals brought in on vessels will be 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. Stay 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 zone.
°    The cleaning of fish or fishing gear will not permitted in any zones, other than at the designated cleaning locations approved by the Hawar Authority.

Special development Zone

Provides for development by Government and Members of the Royal Family of projects of reasonable use, those 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.

°    The regulations governing the General development zone will apply except where matters of National and/or personal security need be considered.
°    Horse riding on beaches will be restricted to specific areas or bridleways defined and controlled in the zone
°    Individual restrictions on movement can be applied as/when required
°    Coastal fishing will be restricted to fishing by line and hook and restricted to specific areas

Security Zone

Provides for the necessary and continuous presence of the BDF upon the islands

°    Improvements to the existing development will be permitted but additional development should conform to the regulations governing the General development zone.
°    Infrastructure developments or extensions to the existing power and water desalination plants will be subject to stringent environmental impact assessments.
°    Individual access and restrictions on movement can be applied as/when required.
°    Walking, cycling and Horse riding will be restricted to specific bridleways defined and controlled in the zone

Protection Zones -Terrestrial

Coastal Management Zone

Area of intertidal or coastal zone that has been subject in the past to poor or inconsiderate development and/or adverse coastal engineering that requires restoration.

°    All works undertaken will be as a consequence of scientific studies that seek to re-establish using natural forces, natural tidal flows and enhance or establish natural public beaches.
°    Reclamation in areas of the coastal management zone will only be permitted behind new or re-established beach lines with no development permitted within fifty meters of the new intertidal zone.
°    The regulations governing the General development Zone will otherwise apply

Buffer Zones

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 enclose all historic and archaeological sites with a minimum clearance such as to preserve the site integrity. Safeguarding the integrity of this human interaction with nature in the Buffer Zone is vital to the protection, maintenance, integrity and evolution of the entire Island Reserve, in particular core areas of high scientific value. The Buffer Zone provides public access into the protected areas of the Wildlife Reserves to allow opportunities for their appreciation and enjoyment. These areas will be managed to maintain the harmonious interaction of nature & culture through the protection of the natural landscape and coastal zone.

°    All activities must be in harmony with nature and the preservation of the social and cultural fabric of the community and maintain the diversity of landscape and habitat, of associated species and ecosystems.
°    Only developments that are of an appropriate scale and/or character and provide opportunities for public enjoyment through recreation and tourism or encourage scientific and educational activities will be permitted subject to the most rigorous environmental impact assessment.
°    Coastal line fishing will be allowed in selected designated areas but all other recreational fishing and collecting activities will be prohibited, as well as all those activities not allowed in General Use “Development Zone”
°    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.   Vehicular traffic will be restricted and limited to a few specified tracks. Failure to comply with the general rules of movements within the zone will result in prosecution.
°    Any and all off road/track activities will be prohibited, failure to comply with the general rules of movements within the zone will result in prosecution.

Wildlife Reserve Zone

The main purpose of Wildlife Reserve Zone is to protect biodiversity by setting aside large areas with 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. The zone are designed to encompass large, contiguous but diverse habitats providing the opportunity for the area to continue to evolve in a natural state, and a protected habitat for the replenishment and genetic protection of terrestrial life of the Islands.  

°    No Development will be permitted in this zone
°    All activities, which remove natural resources will be prohibited as well as all those activities not allowed in General Use “Development Zone and Buffer zones”

The zone further protects core sanctuary areas that provide important habitats for sustaining natural resources such reptiles, birds and invertebrates and other species particularly those not protected by existing wildlife regulations. The area is established to minimise human disturbance to sensitive wildlife populations and their habitats ensuring protection and preservation consistent with the zone designation. Regulations governing access designed to protect while providing opportunities for public use.

°    The mode of access to the zone will be restricted under seasonal license to private automobiles or public transportation, and to by daily permit for bicycle, horse, and foot travel (hiking).
°    Vehicular traffic will be restricted and limited to specified routes or tracks, more extensive cycle, horse, and foot travel should be available but subject to the issuance of permits, seasonal restrictions and designated routes.
°    Failure to comply with 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

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.

°    Exclusively for scientific research with public entry prohibited and use for all other reasons prohibited

In any zone further seasonal restrictions can be applied to prevent any disturbance to wildlife, their feeding or breeding requirements and based on

°    Differences between species in sensitivity to disturbance
°    Critical approach distances
°    Desertion
°    Shifts in colony distribution
°    Delayed breeding
°    Predation including human predation
°    Stampedes
°    Interruption to feeding;

Marine Zones

Marine Recreation Zone

Marine Recreation Zones provide for appreciation and recreational use, set aside to permit motorised or other water sports. All activities must be in harmony with the preservation of the social and cultural fabric of the community and of an appropriate scale and character. Any activity culturally alien to Bahrain will not be allowed.

°    Commercial fishing activities will be prohibited; sports fishing will be restricted to fishing by hook and line, when trolling for pelagic species only one line may be used per person.
°    Prohibited fishing activities will be by using nets, traps and spear, fishing using gun or gaff hook. Offenders risk prosecution under Bahrain's wildlife protection laws
°    The commercial collection of any species (flora or fauna) will not be permitted in any zone.
°    Development will be restricted to that which is sustainable and supports the zone designation however it will be subject to rigorous EIA procedures. Development that alter the natural tidal flushing regime will not be permitted unless subject to independent scientific, coastal and marine studies.

Marine Preservation Zones

Marine Preservation Zones are zones that include biologically important areas, where over patronisation could result in a significant declines in species populations or habitat, and will be subject to conditions and prohibitions including public use restrictions. They are intended to minimize impacts on more sensitive habitats however they will confine or restrict activities such as fishing or personal watercraft operations and live-aboard mooring fields. Special management programs (e.g., monitoring, research, special-use permits and restoration) can be conducted without impediment in these areas. They can be used or set aside as a whole or in part for specific uses such as long-term research and monitoring and/or minimizing the adverse environmental effects of high-impact activities. These zones will protect by controlling or limiting consumptive activities while continuing to allow activities that are compatible with resource protection and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources such as fish and invertebrates.

°    Commercial fishing will be prohibited; the use of nets or trawls will not be permitted under any circumstance. Recreational fishing (unlicensed) will be restricted to hook and line, subject to seasonal and general fisheries controls (eg species, size and weight limitations).
°    Commercial boat access will be available along controlled routes or channels within visitation limits. Seasonal restrictions in these areas can be applied as necessary to prevent any disturbance to wildlife, their feeding or breeding requirements. In addition, access restrictions including no-access, no motor, idle speed only - no wake areas can be applied to reduce user conflicts.
°    Personalised motorised water-based recreation activities such as racing with inboard or outboard and jet boat, jet skiing, water-skiing, para-sailing etc. will only be permitted in designated areas. Non-motorised water sports, eg canoeing, sailing, boating sail boarding (windsurfing) will be permitted and encouraged in Marine Preservation Zones.
°    Landing at prohibited sites and failure to comply with the general restrictions on movement will result in prosecution.
°    Development will be restricted to that which is sustainable and supports the National or World Heritage Park designation however it will be subject to independent scientific study and rigorous EIA procedures.
°    Development that alters the natural tidal flushing regime will not be permitted.
°    Entry from Marine Preservation Zones into and across any internal Marine Ecological Zones will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.

Marine Ecological Zones

These areas are established to minimise disturbance to especially sensitive eco-systems, wildlife populations and their habitats to ensure protection and preservation consistent with a National or World Heritage Park designation and other laws governing the protection and preservation of wildlife and biodiversity in Bahrain.
 
The main purpose of Marine Ecological Zones will be to protect biodiversity by setting aside areas with minimal human disturbance. These zones are designed to encompass large contiguous but diverse habitats that will serve to protect and enhance the spawning, nursery or permanent resident areas of all marine life.

Marine Ecological Zones will additionally provide a level of protection for commercially and recreationally important species of fish and other marine species not currently protected under Bahrain’s existing Wildlife or fisheries legislation by ensuring these zones continue to evolve in their natural state with a minimum of human influence. These zones represent the full range of biodiversity ecosystems, resources and habitats found throughout the proposed National or World Heritage Park

Marine Ecological Zones include

°    Marine areas adjacent to Preservation and Scientific Research Zones
°    Small islands used as bird nesting, resting, or feeding areas
°    Turtles and Dugong feeding areas in addition to potential nesting beaches
°    Algae banks and Seagrass beds
°    Coral Reefs and other distinct marine features

Regulations governing access to the Marine Ecological Zones are designed to protect endangered or threatened species or their habitats within the zones promoting scientific research that supports the preservation of the zone in an undisturbed state.

°    No fishing or development will be permitted in these zones. Unauthorised entry into the zone or landing at prohibited sites or failure to comply with the general restrictions on movement will be subject to prosecution.
°    Entry into or across the Zones will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions The management philosophy for these zones will be determined by their primary function, however the zones will also provide opportunities for limited public use. Public access will only be available through the services of Park guides but restricted to specific routes of access and seasonally controlled visitation limits. 
°    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 with the general restrictions on movement will result in prosecution and loss of permit to enter zones. Access restrictions will include no-access buffer zones, no-motor zones, idle speed only/no wake zones, 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.
°    Canoeing, sailing, boating (non-motorised will be permitted for entry across internal Wildlife Reserve Zones but will be subject to issuance of permits and seasonal restrictions.

Summary

The people of Bahrain have a fundamental responsibility in the maintenance and support for the continued existence and conservation of the Islands of Hawar. The government must continue to commit and obligate itself to the predefined course of action as set out under the World Heritage Convention that includes as a condition of acceptance for Hawar an ecosystem management plan for the Islands. However the Kingdom of Bahrain can consider with pride the current state of preservation of the Islands and their potential for use as an important component in a National strategy for conservation and sustainable development.

Zoning in that it allows potentially conflicting activities to be managed in a protected environment by the spatial separation of specific activities such as development, nature-based tourism and scientific study will provide a flexible yet powerful management tool when coordinated and integrated into management procedures in support of sustainable development. Zoning based on IUCN standards as outlined by Ecosystem Management plans establishing the extent, nature and type of zones, will aid the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and management of the Hawar protected area by encouraging research, monitoring, scientific endeavour and management evaluation in pursuit of the maintenance of a healthy environment.  However without public support, participation and community involvement in all stages of the development and implementation of the management plan, the preservation of Hawar’s unique Biodiversity for the benefit of future generations will irrespective of the strength of the management tools used become increasingly more difficult with time, to justify.














Outline composite zoning plan for the Islands of Hawar