Jeddah, The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) have developed a ground-breaking application of conservation and development planning to enhance biodiversity and conservation-priority species distributions across almost 1,300 km2 of pristine lagoon, pioneering a new relationship between natural resource conservation and the development of a luxury tourism destination.
The Marine Spatial Planning process coordinates multiple uses of the marine environment - energy and utilities, recreation, conservation, transportation and shipping, aquaculture and others and carefully manages the way these interact with vulnerable species and habitats to optimize goals of both conservation and development.
To inform the process, KAUST brought biologists, ecologists, oceanographers and modelers together with TRSDC's architects, engineers and master planners, to collaborate on this large-scale project planned to achieve net conservation benefits in the presence of carefully planned development.
"We will not compromise the standards that we have set for ourselves as we deliver this incredible project. We believe that this commitment matches the desires of our potential customers in the luxury travel market," said John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC.
"Today's luxury traveler wants to enhance, not exploit, the natural environment. Together we can preserve and enhance this unique treasure for future generations, and share the lessons we learn here with the world," John Pagano added.
Developed by KAUST scientists, the planning process applies dedicated software to generate an in-depth picture of a large marine area, allowing for an unprecedented level of insight into the potential environmental impacts of development and the opportunities to optimize conservation benefits. This will help ensure that a network of protected sites within the Al Wajh lagoon, which supports a variety of endangered species, will be unharmed � and actively enhanced � by the development.
Once collected and analyzed, the data obtained was key to informing TRSDC's design to meet goals of both conservation and development, ensuring marine and coastal habitats remain healthy and biodiversity is conserved while supporting sustainable development of luxury tourism.
The Concept Master Plan for the luxury destination will now deliver a net positive conservation benefit of up to 30% within the next two decades.
Source: Saudi Press Agency