The 14th Annual Conservation Workshop for the Biodiversity of Arabia was held at the Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife in Sharjah, UAE, during 3–6 February 2013. This regional forum brought together 120 participants representing UAE, Algeria, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Oman, as well as from the USA, UK, South Africa, and New Zealand. The workshops are hosted by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of the Government of Sharjah, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi, member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The 14th Workshop in 2013 had two parallel themes. The protected areas and planning theme looked at Bioregional Planning and Strategic Planning for Species Conservation. A species assessment theme conducted a formal regional Red List assessment of the breeding birds of Arabia.
Bioregional Planning had been introduced at previous workshops in 2010 and 2011, at which the Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi accepted a mandate to produce a regional biodiversity assessment, under the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative. In a series of meetings, workshops, and with extensive data sharing from across the region, the Initiative's team was able to undertake the first detailed systematic assessment for the entire Arabian Peninsula using six derived layers: integrated marine and terrestrial habitats, land use and marine condition, formal protected areas, species distributions, ecological processes, and opportunities and constraints. This assessment enabled the development of a comprehensive habitat map for the Peninsula and the identification of 36 Priority Areas for conservation. In a series of working group sessions participants reviewed and prioritized the above list, identifying key sites for focused action, including a number of potential Transboundary Conservation Areas.
The Species Conservation Planning component used the framework provided by the IUCN Species Survival Commission to examine the key elements of Regional Species Conservation Plans and how these may be translated into National Species Action Plans. Delegates reviewed the status of species planning in their countries and then, with reference to the Regional Plans for the Arabian leopard Panthera pardus nimr and the Arabian oryx Oryx leucoryx, drafted examples of objectives, targets and actions that could be taken up at a national level, and also assessed the constraints and limitations in drafting such national plans. A final session considered possible candidate species or groups of species for the development of regional and national plans. For the regional Red List assessment of the breeding birds of Arabia, including the island of Socotra, conducted in collaboration with BirdLife International, more than 360 species were assessed, including all those that are endemic and near-endemic to Arabia, and the more widespread species.
As in 2012 the Workshop included a technical training component, with a day and half of hands-on exercises, regional case studies, and equipment assessments relating to the selection and application of VHF, GPS, PTT and geolocator tags for wildlife tracking.