Environmental protection via the conservation of biological diversity is a central theme of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s (KSA) Vision 2030. Biologically characterizing ecosystems that are relevant to the mission of MEWA’s National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover & Combating Desertification (NCVC) would provide essential data as to how and why a particular ecosystem operates in a particular environment. This information can then, in turn, be used to engineer large-scale ecosystems that are sustainable, will positively influence vegetation cover, and will fight against desertification across the KSA. In partnership with the NCVC, the CDA will study a set of 15 terrestrial ecosystems, centered around 5 plant species, each falling into three categories – i.e. Threatened Species, Rangeland Species, and Common Species. The pilot project will establish a robust pipeline/infrastructure to characterize 100s-1000s of different ecosystems across the Kingdom, both terrestrial and aquatic, as part of a broader initiative entitled the KSA Native Genome Project (KSA-NGP) under development. Furthermore, it will produce a new cohort of Saudi scientists trained in the study of ecosystem biology and its application to environmental protection and conservation.
The Native Genome project is led by Professor Rod A. Wing.