Egypt is set to continue going after violations of nature reserve territory in line with a state campaign to reclaim public lands, environment minister Khaled Fahmy announced on Monday.
Fahmy said on the sidelines of the country's World Environment Day celebrations that the ministry has already started removing violations on protected areas, starting with South Sinai’s Nabq Protected Area, state news agency MENA reported.
He added that the ministry intends to carry on by developing the protected areas and preserving them.
Egypt has around 30 nature reserves which cover 12 percent of the country.
Fahmy said that much of the world adopts an economic approach to maintain reserves, by charging admission for visitors to enter and recreate, rather than through government investment.
He said that the budget allocated for protected areas was EGP 30 million last year, but this year has fallen to EGP 15 million, forcing the ministry to coordinate with other bodies to secure the resources needed to protect the reserves.
The minister added during his speech that biodiversity plays a key role in sustainable development and poverty reduction, calling it the cornerstone of life on Earth despite the human activities that endanger it.
He said that Egypt was adopting more than one approach to protect biodiversity on nature reserves, through preservation and development projects.
Last week, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi expressed during a televised speech his frustration at delays in the ongoing process of reclaiming state land, urging the interior ministry and the armed forces to put an end to transgressions.
Shortly after the speech, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail gave governors a deadline of 30 May for reclaiming state-owned land that has been illegally appropriated by private parties in recent decades.
Since then, thousands of feddans of land nationwide have been reclaimed by the state through the interior ministry and the army.