Mitigation of Hurricane Impact on Endemic and Threatened Plants in Socotra – Project Phase I
Since 2018, ARC-WH has provided extensive support to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) of Socotra, Yemen, in order to implement the International Emergency Assistance financed by the UNESCO World Heritage Fund to establish two regeneration plant nurseries of iconic endemic flora. These florae were threatened by the destructive impacts left in the wake of two cyclones that struck the island in 2015 and 2018; other destructive impacts have come from overgrazing from goats and construction projects. The ongoing project is located in two mountainous Protected Areas in Homhil and Fermhin, both critically damaged by cyclones and hurricanes. Two fenced plant nurseries with irrigation systems were installed with the active involvement and training of a team of local community members. These community members not only installed the nurseries, collected seeds and grew seedlings but were also trained in the monitoring and maintaining of the nurseries to allow the natural regeneration of the threatened plant species. The project is in Phase II, which leads to completing the creation of the nurseries with well-functioning irrigation systems and a more sustainable monitoring system. However, it has also achieved many milestones that represent crucial added values to the livelihood of the local community. For the first time in history, the local community living in the mountainous area of Fermhin has access to fresh drinking water, since the project created a piped connection to a freshwater source in Skand Mountain. They now have access to natural water, which they can use for healthful drinking and farming. Local community members have been contracted and trained in monitoring and maintaining the nurseries to create sustainability. Most importantly, it is the first time that women from the community are actively engaged in this project. The women also benefit from the funding directly by getting trained and paid for their work inside the nurseries. They are also being paid for planting and raising the tree seedlings inside their private gardens, which are then relocated to the nursery once they reach a certain size. Children from the community are also involved in the process. This in turn raises their awareness of the importance of environmental protection and biodiversity conservation. Moreover, it creates a sense of ownership of the project and a sense of value for the work undertaken during the implementation and monitoring process, leading to more sustainability. Thanks to the creation of a fenced nursery, the growth of other important plant species has been recorded. This was possible due to the fact that the fences created an area where goat grazing is prevented. This allows the plants to grow naturally without grazing during their early growth phases. Some of these plants, such as the Aloe Vera plant, are especially important to the local community as they serve as medicinal plants.