Protected Areas in Egypt are for the most part a relatively new, but rapidly growing development. Since the passage of the relevant Law 102 in 1983, twenty-seven protected areas have been declared and Egypt intends to expand to 40 areas by 2017.
In many Protected Areas, the infrastructure is in place to receive visitors, while in others it is in the process of being set up.
The most popular occupations are diving in the Red Sea to explore the spectacular reef systems and to do desert nature treks with a local Bedouin guide. Because of its generally dry hot climate and arid terrain much of the fauna and flora is adapted to the desert and often hard to find, so the visitor may be excused for thinking that the desert is deserted but this is indeed very far from the case!
Protected areas focus on cultural heritage, biodiversity, outstanding development of these fragile habitats is high.
The problems facing our eco systems and natural heritage are becoming more challenging. With the increase in the Egyptian population (now estimated close to 90 million people), pressure on natural resources is greater than ever before.
Some of Sinai's protected areas are very remote and thus receive very few visitors, while others receive many visitors who may not even know that they have visited one of Egypt's protected areas...
Within the protectorates it is illegal:
- To move or remove any object, stones, rocks, shells, etc.
- To disturb or harm animals, birds, fish, corals or other marine life.
- To cut or uproot plants or trees.
- To write, paint or carve grafitti.
Offenders are subject to prosecution according to the terms of Law 102 of 1983.
Local people and their cultures, together with the potential utility for eco-tourism are important aspects of the protected areas and also need to be protected.
Many people in South Sinai depend on tourism, if not the majority, for their income. However, as more tourists visit areas of special natural or cultural interest they place great, sometimes unsustainable, stress on these sites.
These, environments are more susceptible to stress than those of many other countries so the need for promoting sustainable development is very high.