Times of Oman
Nov 28, 2015 LAST UPDATED AT 05:23 PM GMT
Rooting for the environment
July 23, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Photo - Times of Oman

The year 2012 proved to be eventful for the Environment Society of Oman (ESO). Sustained research programmes; a community outreach programme; local, regional, and global conferences; and similar activities have kept ESO busy since its establishment in March 2004. ESO's wide-ranging projects cover environmental education as well as terrestrial and marine research, making the organisation a leading player in Oman's conservation strategy.

In her message in the annual report for 2012, Her Highness Sayyida Tania bint Shabib Al Said said, "There has been a huge focus on capacity building over the past year; many of our projects have begun in a secondary phase that involves training local communities for the purpose of increasing awareness and educating the young and old in the inevitable role they play in [safeguarding] the environment. Our goal has been to spread a better understanding of what NGOs and civil societies do. By raising awareness and involving communities, we hope to highlight the role that civil societies play in the country's progress, whilst simultaneously collecting data and sharing the process with those involved."

Incidentally, last year saw HH Sayyida Tania being honoured with the Shaikh Issa bin Ali Al Khalifa Award for Voluntary Work as one of the leading volunteers in the Arab World. HH Sayyida Tania was recognised for her outstanding contribution to the field of environmental conservation and protection in Oman at the awards, organised annually by the Good Word Society in Bahrain to recognise figures from around the Arab world who make a difference through volunteering.

ESO earned the title of Best Civil Institution of 2012 at the Tawasul's Riyada Awards.

Stating that 2012 had been a major year for ESO, Lamees Daar, executive director of ESO, stated, "Our scientific projects continue, with new discoveries being made, especially in the area of whale and dolphin work, where we are focusing our efforts on researching the genetically unique population of the Humpback Whale, which is not known to breed or feed outside of Omani waters. Research on the Egyptian vulture began in 2012, and a much larger number of breeding pairs were found than expected. In addition, we were able to incorporate a socioeconomic aspect in the project in collaboration with the Oman Women's Association (OWA), which was a huge success."

Through its marine projects, ESO has continued to cooperate with the government to help further their common goals through regular meetings and the provision of research and advice in specific areas, such as providing information on marine wildlife to the National Report for the Convention on Biological Diversity for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA). The organisation has also shared data for whale and dolphin reports and the preparation of scientific papers in association with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Besides this, ESO has provided information on marine species to MECA and the Royal Oman Police to help them create new legislation related to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Its participation in the MECA Diving Committee project for the protection of coral reefs from diving, fishing activities, and other human activities has furthered the cause.

Turtle conservation

The global importance of Oman to the survival of turtles—all species of which have been classified as "endangered" or "critically endangered" throughout the world—has been definitively established through surveys and research conducted within the Sultanate over the past 35 years. In the last 6 years, ESO, in collaboration with MECA and senior international scientists, has played the lead research role in studying turtles in the Sultanate. ESO has increased its knowledge and understanding of turtle biology, ecology, and conservation needs and raised the international profile of Oman's turtle resources. Through grants and long-term support, especially from the US Marine Turtle Conservation Fund, ESO has

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