Socotra Archipelago, in the northwest Indian Ocean near the Gulf of Aden, is 250 km long and comprises four islands and two rocky islets which appear as a prolongation of the Horn of Africa. The site is of universal importance because of its biodiversity with rich and distinct flora and fauna: 37% of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world. The site also supports globally significant populations of land and sea birds (192 bird species, 44 of which breed on the islands while 85 are regular migrants), including a number of threatened species. The marine life of Socotra is also very diverse, with 253 species of reef-building corals, 730 species of coastal fish and 300 species of crab, lobster and shrimp.
2017 Conservation Outlook
Current state and trend of VALUES
Overall PROTECTION and MANAGEMENT
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Description of values
Complex assemblage of unique ecosystems
Endemic flora and vegetation
Endemic reptiles with their habitats
Endemic and endangered birds with their habitats
Endemic invertebrates with their habitats
Coastal/marine biodiversity and habitats
To a lesser extent, the same cultural practices apply to the use of sea resources including community managed coastal reserves and tribal fishing regulations.
Among several others addressing the islands' sustainability, a specialized community-based organization (CBO) was established in 2013 to protect and promote the Socotri culture, language, and indigenous knowledge, and the Socotri governorate intends to adopt regulations to protect tangible and intangible heritage (State Party Report, 2016).
unique vegetation of Socotra have evolved with goats for millennia, and have traditionally been managed sustainably. However, land division, less movement of livestock, abandonment of controls on breeding, and walled pastures in the mountains have begun to create overgrazing and overbrowsing. The authors argue that it is not grazing pressure but reduced grazing management which is degrading the environment. The livestock grazing activity is deeply anchored in local history and traditional practices, however, the dramatic socioeconomic transformation of the island by cash based and market based approaches have resulted in major alteration of the traditional lifestyle related to grazing. It s argued that it is no longer a subsistence based activity, rather has evolved as a prime commercial one.
heritage, and strengthen the political and social representation of the local people on the national and international levels (Abulhawa et al, 2013).
Intense involvement of national and international scientists in demarcation and management planning. Local stakeholders, who have been stewards and managers of the area for centuries, are not sufficiently involved and do not benefit sufficiently, e.g. from tourism development. There is a need for empowering local communities and local institutions and entities to enable them to manage the site and implement conservation projects.
proved customs (UNEP-WCMC, 2011). A basic legal framework is in place, but the need for strengthening the legal framework and enforcement capacity was noted in Committee Decision 32 COM 8B.5. A Conservation and Zoning Plan (CZP, 2000) and Cabinet Decrees No. 45-49 of 2008 set the legal framework for the protection, management, and sustainable development of the Archipelago. However, the responsibility for CZP implementation (both EPA and Ministry of Public Works and Roads) remains unclear. The legal status of Socotra Administration itself (no archipelago wide conservation authority) is a major obstacle to conservation enforcement (Abulhawa & Abdulhalim, 2013; Van Damme & Banfield, 2011). Creation of such authority is planned, but overall a decrease of conservation staff by 50% is observed since the termination of the UNDP Socotra Conservation and Development Program in 2008, which further reduced enforcement capacity (Abulhawa & Abdulhalim, 2013).
In response to Committee Decision 39 COM 7B.6, a Deputy Governor for Environment and Development has been appointed, initiatives have been taken to strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in the management of the property, and there is ongoing consideration of a policy to cancel all previous decisions to expand main access roads within the property (SOC, 2016).
Despite these positive developments, overall the response to Committee decisions and recommendations is slow, and is not keeping up with the emergence of new threats.
and ecology have been less well studied than the flora, and it is clear that many smaller species remain to be discovered. Monitoring, mapping and description is done of bird populations, meteorological conditions, marine biodiversity, undersea and tidal/subtidal habitats, fishing, turtles and vegetation by plots, transects and key species (UNEP-WCMC, 2011). Knowledge on conservation status of values is satisfactory for most plants and for birds, but lacking for most reptiles and invertebrates, and some plants. There is a need for more management-orientated knowledge generation and use. Nowadays there is limited application and erosion of traditional knowledge about environmental management among the local population. A comprehensive assessment was planned to study the impacts of the cyclones of November 2015 (State Party Report, 2016).
After the termination of the SCDP program and decline of EPA capacity, at least five local associations were created with support from EPA and SCDP to oversee the management of the pilot Protected Areas established in mid 2000s. The local associations decided unilaterally to maintain the management programs for their respective areas regardless of the level of follow up and
support provided by EPA, and subsequently maintained commendable levels of protection and maintenance (Abulhawa et al, 2013). The current changes in local governance system are better recognizing the role of local communities in decision making and effective management of the islands (State Party Report, 2016)
|№||Organization/ individuals||Project duration||Brief description of Active Projects|
|1||Friends of Socotra society||Various small research and conservation projects, past and ongoing|
|2||GIZ, UNDP, IFAD, UNEP, FRC||Since 2012, several projects and initiatives (including the GIZ program mentioned earlier) were signed between the Yemeni government and international partners, with a total budget of around 20 million US dollars. Three of these projects address the restructuring and empowerment of the EPA (State Party Report, 2016).|
|3||Green Climate Fund||The Yemeni government is negotiating access to funds from the Green Climate Fund through UNEP (State Party Report, 2016).|
|Socotra Archipelago Project. Program for conservation and sustainable development jointly implemented by UNEP and Ministry of Water and Environment (State Party Report, 2016).|
|№||Site need title||Brief description of potential site needs||Support needed for following years|
|1||Capacity building and empowerment for local communities||Empowerment and capacity building for local communities and civil society organizations to co-manage natural resources and protected areas. Program should be strongly attached to sustainable financing mechanisms (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|2||Tourism development strategy||Sustainable tourism development strategy should be developed in collaboration with local and international private sectors (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|3||.||Biodiversity monitoring system, with a particular focus on an early warning system for alien invasive species|
|4||Sustainable financing||Sustainable financing strategy is required to ensure the necessary human and financial resources for the long-term management of the property (UNEP-WCMC, 2011).|
|5||.||World Heritage communication and interpretation programme|
|6||.||Road impact remediation programme|
|7||.||Organizational development of relevant nature conservation institutions, including archipelago-wide authority|
|8||.||Action Plan development, resourcing and implementation to implement 2008 decrees on biodiversity conservation at Socotra|
|9||Archipelago-wide management authority||An Archipelago-wide management authority should be established, legally mandated and well-resourced to oversee the conservation of the property and its sustainable development. The current political reforms taking place in Yemen represent a rare opportunity to strengthen the legal and institutional status of Socotra in accordance with its World Heritage status (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|10||Inclusion of outer islands in management programs||A clear strategy should be devised to include the outer islands in all management programs, including solutions to year round access, communication and reporting (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|11||Road master plan revision||A clear decision should be taken on the cancellation of the remaining components of controversial roads. The MOPWH road master plan should be revised to be fully in line with the World Heritage zoning plan. A Strategic Environmental Assessment of the road network should be undertaken to find the least environmentally damaging options for transportation on the island (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|12||Effective EIA process||An effective EIA process should be developed and adopted for all new infrastructure development (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|13||Strengthen marine enforcement capacity||Adopt a clear strategy on strengthening the marine enforcement capacity (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|14||Devise clear land grabbing strategy||A comprehensive study on the potential impact of land grabbing and land conflicts should be undertaken. A clear strategy should be devised to ensure their minimal impact (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|15||Documentation and protection of cultural heritage||Efforts should be expanded to document and protect the cultural heritage of Socotra as a holder of great traditional and indigenous knowledge and practices related to the conservation and sustainable utilization of the property’s resources (Abulhawa et al, 2013).|
|16||Salvage of grounded ships||The possibilities of and risks involved in salvaging the two grounded ships should be assessed, and appropriate measures taken to restore any damages caused (UNESCO SOC, 2016).|
|17||Revival of traditional land management practices||Revival of traditional land management practices including seasonal transhumance should be promoted in an effort to reduce threats from soil erosion and habitat degradation as a result of overgrazing (UNESCO SOC, 2016).|
|18||Direct line of communication||In light of political instability, a direct and continuous line of communication needs to be established with the management team to help voice their needs at the regional and international levels (Abulhawa et al, 2014).|
|19||Crisis management measures and post-crisis plan||A set of specific crisis management measures are needed, including advocating the supply of liquefied gas in order to avoid the catastrophic impacts of wood collection on the site's trees. A post-crisis plan should be discussed, addressing the priority capacity-building needs for site access control and monitoring (Abulhawa et al, 2014).|
|20||Management links developed||Appropriate linkages need to be developed between the management of the property, its buffer zones and the Socotra Biosphere Reserve (UNEP-WCMC, 2011).|
|1||Abulhawa, T. and Abdulhalim, H. (2013). ‘Report on the mission to Socotra Archipelago, Republic of Yemen from 4 to 14 November, 2012’. UNESCO World Heritage Centre and IUCN. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263/documents/>. Accessed 23 May 2013.|
|2||Abulhawa, T., Abdulhalim, H., Osipova, E., Cummings, T. (2014). TABE’A II Report – Enhancing Regional Capacities for World Heritage. Amman, Jordan: IUCN. ii + 74pp.|
|3||Attore, F., Francesconi, F., Taleb, N., Scholte, P., Saeed, A., Alfo, M. and Bruno, F. (2007). ‘Will dragonblood survive the next period of climate change? Current and future potential distribution of Dracaena cinnabari (Socotra, Yemen).’ Biological Conservation 138: 430-439.|
|4||BirdLife International (2013a). ‘Datazone: Endemic Bird Area Search’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/_ebaadvsearch.php>. Accessed 7 May 2013.|
|5||BirdLife International (2013b). ‘Datazone-IBA search: Yemen. [Electronic reference] <http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sitesearchresults.php?reg=…;. Accessed 13 May 2013.|
|6||Cheung, C. and DeVantier, L. (2008). ‘Socotra – a natural history of the islands and their people’. In: Van Damme, K. (Ed.): Odyssey Books and Guides, Airphoto International Ltd., Hongkong, 408 pp.|
|7||Conservation International (2013). ‘The Biodiversity Hotspots: Horn of Africa’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.conservation.org/where/priority_areas/hotspots/a…;. Accessed 13 May 2013.|
|8||IUCN (2013). ‘The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.iucnredlist.org/>. Accessed 10 May 2013.|
|9||IUCN (2014). Assessing the Management of Socotra World Heritage Site. (3 February 2014). [Electronic reference] <https://www.iucn.org/content/assessing-management-socotra-w…;. Accessed 4 December 2016.|
|10||Morris, M. (2002). ‘Manual of traditional land use in the Soqotra Archipelago’. Edinburgh: Royal Botanic Garden (unpubl.).|
|11||Republic of Yemen (2006). ‘Socotra Archipelago: Proposal for inclusion in the World Heritage List’. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1263/documents/>. Accessed 23 May 2013.|
|12||Riservato, E., Grieco, C., Pella, F., Sindaco, R., Pupin, F., Suleiman, A. S. and Fasola, M. (2010). ‘A contribution to the knowledge of the odonatofauna of the Socotra Archipelago’. Zoology in the Middle East 50(1): 101-106.|
|13||Roesler, H. and Wranik, W. (2004). ‘A key and annotated checklist to the reptiles of the Socotra Archipelago.’ Fauna of Arabia 20: 505-534.|
|14||Scholte, P. et al. (2008). Goats: Part of the Problem or the Solution to Biodiversity Conservation on Socotra? Socotra Conservation and Development Programme. Hadibo, Socotra, Yemen.|
|15||State of Conservation Report by the State Party (February 2016). Socotra Archipelago World Heritage Property. Yemen Ministry of Water and Environment.|
|16||Suleiman, A. S., Meier, G. G., and Haverson, P. J. (2010). ‘Confirmed eradication of the House Crow from Socotra Island, Republic of Yemen’. Wildlife Middle East 4: 4.|
|17||UNEP-WCMC (2011). Socotra Archipelago, Yemen. UNEP-WCMC World Heritage Information Sheets. [Electronic reference] <http://www.unep-wcmc.org/world-heritage-information-sheets_…;. Accessed 12 December 2016.|
|18||UNESCO State of Conservation Report 2013. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/1925>. Accessed 4 December 2016.|
|19||UNESCO State of Conservation Report 2015. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3233>. Accessed 4 December 2016.|
|20||UNESCO State of Conservation Report 2016. [Electronic reference] <http://whc.unesco.org/en/soc/3461>. Accessed 4 December 2016.|
|21||Van Damme, K. and Banfield, L. (2011). ‘Past and present human impacts on the biodiversity of Socotra Island (Yemen): implications for future conservation.’ Zoology in the Middle East Supplementum 3, 2011: 31-89.|
|22||WWF (2013). ‘List of Priority Global 200 Ecoregions: Socotra Island Desert’. [Electronic reference] <http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/ecoregions/socotra_isl…;. Accessed 13 May 2013.|
|23||WWF and IUCN (1994). ‘Volume 1: Europe, Africa, South West Asia and the Middle East’. In: Centres of Plant Diversity: a guide and strategy for their conservation. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: WWF and IUCN.|
|24||Wetlands International (2013). ‘Ramsar Sites Information Service’. [Electronic reference] <http://www.wetlands.org/rsis/>. Accessed 7 May 2013.|