Problems facing the Protectorate

Global warming: much of the unique flora and fauna of the High Mountains was marooned here from the ice ages as the glaciers retreated and temperatures rose. With global warming raising temperatures further and droughts becoming more frequent and tenacious, survival of these vulnerable species is under threat.

Water policy: to combat the drought and support the community of St Katherine, water is being piped into the village, in a project funded by the EU. Disposal of the waste water in this sensitive desert environment with the risk of contaminating the local groundwater poses a new challenge.

Population growth: current plans to increase the population of the village with migration from the Nile valley would seriously affect the Bedouin character of the village and affect the unique association of Bedouin, monks and environment that has formed and nurtured this landscape.

Urbanization: the unique landscape with the Monastery in its rugged setting is under threat from development around Mt Sinai: views from the top of Mt Sinai are under threat from development plans for Wadi Isaba’eya; increased lighting in the streets and hotel compounds are bringing an urban atmosphere to a quintessential wilderness landscape.

Mass tourism: from 1992 to2002 the number of visitors to St Katherine increased tenfold, from 29 000 to 320 000, most of which was directed to the Monastery and Mt Sinai which are now suffering from significant environmental stress while increasing the risks of serious accidents. Alarming projections for the future see these numbers doubling in the next five years. It is hoped that tourism can be redirected to supporting pilgrimages, trekking and ecotourism along with careful management of Mt Sinai.

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