Country Profiles

Qatar - Country Profile

Status and Trends of Biodiversity


Qatar is a peninsula located on the west bank of the Arabian Gulf, and is connected by land to Saudi Arabia (Arabian peninsula) on it's southern border. It has an arid climate, hot between June and August and pleasant between November and February, the average maximum and minimum temperatures being 31ºC and 22ºC respectively. The average annual rainfall is 81mm. The area of Qatar is 11,437 square kilometers.

The country has very little variations in its geography, most of the surface being plain with small, scattered carbonate mountains in the north (Dukhan area) and sand dunes in the south East (Ummsaieed, Khor-aludaid). The remaining areas have either stony (Hazm) or soft soil areas (Rowadh). The plants found are scattered, but are somewhat more frequent in the rich soil areas (Rawdah). There are no rivers or lakes in the country, thus the primary source of water comes from rainfall and ground water.

The flora and fauna of Qatar are unique and well adapted to the hot and arid environment. The basic habitat types found in Qatar include mangroves, sabkha, sand dunes, Hammada desert (rocks and gravel), rocky ecosystems, wadies and runnels, and depressions that collect fine sand. Approximately 1,900 wild species have been documented in Qatar, including 1,000 terrestrial and 900 marine species. The biodiversity inventory indicates that about 78% of terrestrial species in Qatar are rare. Eight species of mammals, 242 species of birds, 29 reptelian species, one aphibian and 228 species of invertebrates, have been recorded in the terrestrial ecosystems of the country so far. The flora consists of 371 species of flowering plants.

The endangered species in Qatar include the Arabian oryx, Greater spotted eagle and Corn crake. The country is particularly rich in its marine habitats and biodiversity including: barchan dunes, sea grass beds, coral reefs, and mangrove swamps. About 995 marine species have been identified in Qatar, including 379 species of invertebrates and 20 species of birds. Globally endangered marine species such as the Hawksbill turtle, Leatherback turtle and Dugong are found in the waters of Qater. Habitat reduction, a result of modern development, has emerged as a significant threat to the biodiversity of the country.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

Qatar has established 5 terrestrial protected areas accounting for about 18% of the total land area, and 3 marine protected areas, nearly all habitat types being represented in the protected areas (PA) network. Two new sites are being proposed for designation as PAs.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

Qatar’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan was finalized in October 2004. Based on an assessment of the status of biodiversity in the country, Qatar’s NBSAP identified a total of 11 strategic goals under the following titles: protected areas, ecotourism sites and facilities, marine and coastal resources, rangelands and desertification, agrobiodiversity and desertification, environmental legislation, scientific research, education and public awareness, invasive alien species and biosafety standards, environmental monitoring and environmental impact assessments, and multilateral environmental agreements.

For example, strategic goals regarding protected areas include the expansion of the national system of terrestrial and marine protected areas to protect representative examples of all of the major ecosystems, key biological sites and species of special management concern in Qatar. Concerning marine and coastal resources, the goal is to protect and conserve living resources for the development of a sustainable marine fishing and recreation industry in Qatar.

Under each goal, there are some specific actions proposed to achieve it and a set of indicators to monitor progress towards it. Finally, the NBSAP also identified mechanisms for implementing its goals, including partnerships, projects, coordination units, sources of funding, review and reporting processes.

Implementation of the Convention

Measures Taken to Achieve the 2010 Target

The country is firmly committed to achieving the 2010 Target, by implementing the provisions of the CBD and other biodiversity treaties such as CITES and CCD to which Qatar is a Party.

Legislation has been enacted to deal with with habitat protection and species conservation, addressing issues like overgrazing, hunting, wildlife trade, etc . Specific programs are being pursued for the protection of endangered species such as marine turtles and the mangroves on the east coast. The country has also improved the institutional capacity for enhanced biodiversity management by strengthening the Supreme Council for Environment and Natural Reserves (SCENR); cross-sectoral cooperation is also being sustained to achieve the biodiversity conservation goals. Increasing public awareness and public participation in conservation work is reckoned as a particular strength in achieving the 2010 Target.

Initiatives in Protected Areas

Qatar has achieved a substantial increase in the coverage of the protected area (PA) system by the designation of new areas for protection. Capacity improvement for the effective management of the PAs is regularly being undertaken and the legal regime for protection is also being strengthened.

Several protected areas serve as sites for the restoration of endangered wildlife species through reintroductions. The restoration of the wild-extinct Arabian oryx constitutes a remarkable model in this respect. A small founding herd was successfully captive bred at the Arabian oryx Breeding Centre and animals from this stock was reintroduced in three reserves - Shahanya, Ushaijrij and Almazhabyah. The Rheem gazelle that became locally extinct was also reintroduced following successful captive breeding. The reintroduced populations have grown to 650 Arabian oryx and 3,500 Rheem gazelles. The past reintroductions, however, have been in fenced reserves, and now they are being released in open protected areas as fully free ranging animals.

The research work in the protected areas is being expanded and management plans for the PAs are being revised. SCENR is also seeking ways to improve local community participation in the management of PAs.