UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory


UNESCO - MAB Biosphere Reserves Directory


The Islands of Farsan

The Islands of Farasan represent a cluster of islands located in the extreme south-west of Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border. The biosphere reserve features terrestrial ecosystem occupying only 10 per cent amid a stunning marine environment. The Islands form a mosaic of key biodiversity spots, recognized for their outstanding universal value in the South Red Sea and whereby the vegetation is typically originated from the Tihamah plain and hills bioregions.

"Juzur" Farasan declared protected area in 1996 by a Royal Decree, is recognized as one of Saudi Arabia’s prime protected sites. The islands coastlines and surrounding Sea embrace a variety of ecosystems including coral reefs, red and black mangroves, seagrass beds, saltmarshes, and macro-algal reefs. The islands are home to the largest population of idmi gazelle in Saudi Arabia and nesting repositories for pinkbacked pelican, sooty falcon, white-eyed gull, osprey, crab-plover, lesser crested tern, white-cheeked tern, and Red Sea noddy. In the deep sea live the dolphins, whales, dugong, green turtle, hawksbill turtle, and manta ray. Farasan Islands are recognized as Important Plants Area hosting rare and endemic species and holding three of thirteen stands of the threatened red mangrove. The Islands still preserves man-made terraces showing ancestral traditions and agricultural practices which rely on old means of irrigation and small scale fishing.