Claim 5000455 - Remediation of Terrestrial Resources (US$618,974,433)

     The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was awarded US$618,974,433 due to ecological damage to vegetation and soils from military activities. The ground offensive of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 (construction of troop encampments, military fortifications and roadways, as well as the movement and activities of troops both in the preparations for and during the allied offensive into Kuwait) resulted in widespread damage to the fragile desert environment in the northern part of Saudi Arabia including the destruction of desert vegetation and compacting of the desert soils which in turn hindered re-establishment of perennial vegetation in affected areas. The damaged area was in excess of 550 km². Excavation of a total volume of approximately 22 million m³ of soil used to construct berms and other structures contributed to the extent of terrestrial damage. In addition, the breakup of ‘desert pavement’ that typically protects the soil surface led to increased wind erosion leading to further degradation of the desert soil system.

     For the remediation of damage caused by military fortifications, the project plan provides for the levelling of berms, fortifications and the filling in of trenches together with the decompaction of the surrounding soil. Remediation of the military fortifications began in 2010 and was completed in late 2013.

     In respect of restoration of desert vegetation, the first action conducted was the construction of Revegetation Island Test Plots to evaluate the effect of fertilization, mulching, and irrigation on growth and survival of rimth and arfaj seedlings and to investigate the most effective irrigation method for plant survival and growth. Results of these studies were considered important for the large-scale design of the revegetation islands.

     The project plan under this award also provides for the construction of ten revegetation islands, each measuring 36km², to restore the damaged desert environments to pre-war condition. Within each revegetation island, 15 per cent of the area will be irrigated and planted with native shrub seedlings with the remaining 85 per cent seeded with native shrub and grass seed. Native plant nurseries will be constructed and each revegetation island will be fenced and patrolled. In addition, the Badiyah Nature Center is to be constructed to help facilitate the acceptance of the revegetation approach by the local communities, as well as providing a base to raise public awareness of desert restoration and conservation through the projects. A Sustainable Rangeland Management Programme (SRMP) has also been developed to maintain and manage the restored rangelands in the long term.