Artificial system

Saudi Arabia’s TRSDC plans engineered wetlands as project moves forward with construction

RIYADH: The developer of the world’s largest sustainable tourism sites, The Red Sea Development Co., plans to create man-made wetlands to further improve the environment as the company advances construction work.

TRSDC, as the company calls it, plans to create 38 hectares of man-made wetlands that should attract birds and bats to feed on the many insects and invertebrates that colonize the wetlands, said Damian Smith, an executive. superior of the environmental team of the project. News.

“Much of TRSDC’s project wastewater is treated using engineered wetlands and we use nature to treat the wastewater. Plants use a process called ‘phyto-remediation’ in which nutrients are taken up by the roots to filter and clean water, it’s a great example of allowing nature to help us,” Smith said.

“Measures to protect wetlands and sensitive habitats were one of the first considerations during the design of the project, indeed 70% of the islands of the Al Wahj lagoon are currently protected from development. Additionally, we aim to increase biodiversity in the project area by 30% over the next twenty years,” Smith said in an email response, coinciding with World Wetlands Day on February 2.

TRSDC is developing an area of ​​over 28,000 square kilometers on the west coast of Saudi Arabia. It recently concluded a SR14 billion ($3.7 billion) term loan facility and revolving credit facility with four Saudi banks.

The last quarter of 2023 will see the completion of the first phase of the project, which includes the construction of 16 hotels with 3,000 rooms on five islands and two inland sites. This stage will also see the development of air, land and sea transport hubs.

In October, the company announced the signing of an agreement to operate nine hotels slated to open in the first phase, five of which will open in 2022.

All of our new employees receive awareness training highlighting the importance of our habitats, especially the Al Wahj lagoon. We are very aware of our stewardship and responsibilities to Al Wahj Lagoon

The Red Sea Development Corporation.

Saudi Arabia is said to be home to more than 50 natural and man-made wetlands. While the number might be different today than nearly a decade ago – due to the ephemeral and transient formation of these lands – wetlands remain a barely discussed topic compared to other environmental issues. .

TRSDC, which is creating a regenerative tourist destination along the west coast of Saudi Arabia, is keen to highlight the importance of coastal wetlands.

“Wetlands are hugely important global connectors, if they can be imagined as sanctuaries within a global network of bird migration routes. Many species of birds travel between continents and oceans twice a year, while they travel they need a place to rest, recuperate and replenish their energy,” Smith told Arab News.

Birds get their needs from these wetlands, and the company added that they are rich in biodiversity and support many different species such as small passerines, small mammals and insects, among others.

Saudi Arabia had 38 large and small natural wetlands and 13 man-made wetlands in 2013, the majority of which are located on the coasts; more precisely, on the coast of the Red Sea. Large areas of mangroves are also found in Ras Tanura near Dammam. Wadis help nourish these wetlands by supplying them with water containing nutrients that nourish plants.

Images of wetlands in the area where TRSDC is constructing the site

A particular advantage of these coastal wetlands is that they contain large areas of mangroves and seagrass beds. Both absorb a lot of carbon from the atmosphere.

“Less carbon in the atmosphere equals healthier air to breathe,” Smith explained.

However, not only are natural wetlands useful, but man-made wetlands also provide a number of benefits.

In addition, TRSDC will offer its guests the opportunity to visit the coastal wetlands of Al Wahj Lagoon while preserving the area and working to ensure that it does not suffer any damage. This will be done by sensitizing its hosts and showing them the importance of wetlands. He also added that their operational systems are designed to ensure that wetland ecosystems would experience minimal disruption.

Damien Smith

Within local communities, TRSDC aims to raise awareness of the importance of coastal wetlands and wadis through the employment of at least 25 local area environmental stewards.

“All of our new employees receive awareness training highlighting the importance of our habitats, especially the Al Wahj Lagoon. We are very conscious of our stewardship and responsibilities to Al Wahj Lagoon.