Petrified Forest Protected Area
Overview of the Protectorate
The Petrified Forest protectorate is located about 30 km away from Cairo near Maadi. It is at least 35 million years old and was declared to be a protectorate in 1989. The reserve is an ideal exam￼ple of the physical history of earth. The six-km area is covered with the remains of trees from the ancient era which were brought here due to the floods on the Red Sea hills. The period during which such floods occurred was referred to as the Oligocene, when the temperature of the earth dropped massively. The uniqueness of this period is that the drop in temperature led to the creation of an atmosphere which supported creation of many new species like elephants and horses.
The Petrified Forest protectorate is located about 30 km away from Cairo near Maadi. It is at least 35 million years old and was declared to be a protectorate in 1989. Tge protectorate is located on the North Katameya- Ein el Sokhna road. Its geological history makes it very important. The natural treasures present at the place has given it a strong reputation as a cultural, touristic and scientific destination. There are a large variety of stones, sands, petrified trees, and trunks present here which can help in finding out more about the ancient geological period of the earth. The Petrified Forest is a relatively small geological protectorate compared to others in Egypt and covers a land area of only 7 square kilometers. It is also classified as a natural heritage site.
Petrified Forest Vegetation
￼The reserve is densely covered by acacia trees, various pastoral plants, and bushes. These help in maintaining the health of the Mediterranean coast which was otherwise damaged by various developmental projects that disturbed the natural environment of the region.
The high density of acacia trees helps in increasing the level of soil water and preserves the natural qualities of the subterranean water. The Petrified Forest protectorate is one of the best natural sites in Egypt and the government has created it in order to conserve and protect the importance and richness of the wildlife flora and fauna seen here. It’s also a popular tourist destination.
The Petrified Forest is also known as Gabal el-Khashab, or Wood Hill. A visit is best for someone who is a nature lover, because if not there is nothing much to see in the reserve accept the stones, sands, and rocks. The biggest threat to the reserve now comes from the constant construction work around the area. The many construction jobs nearby have led to most of the animals and wildlife disappearing from this area over the past ten to 15 years.
Overall the small size of the Petrified Forest reserve does not detract from what an important pearl it is in the natural heritage of Egypt.
The Ministry of Environment, together with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the Financial Sustainability of Protected Areas Project have been working on establishing a development plan for both Wadi Degla and the Petrified Forest Protected Areas in Cairo, making it ready for the public.
Following the rigorous development interventions that started last April 2017, an opening ceremony was held today at the Petrified Forest and Wadi Degla in the presence of the Minister of Environment Dr. Khaled Fahmy, UNDP Country Director Ms. Randa Aboul-Hosn, members of the parliament, UNDP representatives, Head of the Italian Cooperation in Egypt, representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, universities, governmental bodies, press, partners and collaborators, as well as nature lovers and the general public.
The Petrified Forest will be open to the public for the first time, marking the petrified trees areas (the Open-Air Museum), building new walking trail, installing information panels, directional signs, information points, tents, camp sites, and seating areas. Building the right facilities was integral to ensure the inclusion of the persons with disabilities, along with advancing the infrastructure and all visitor’s facilities (water stations, bathrooms, information centers, and administrative offices).
Parallel results have been achieved in Wadi Degla protected areas with the installation of new information panels, and border signs, a children’s playground, mountain biking lanes, handicrafts market, a botanical garden, the Park trails, and an expanded parking lot. This, along with improving the quality of water circuits, security booths, and equipping the administrative offices with the necessary supplies.
In this demanding environment, the Financial Sustainability of Protected Areas project, supported by UNDP, executes the necessary interventions and underpins the Ministry’s plan to develop and conserve the Protected Areas in Egypt. The project is committed to raising awareness of the biodiversity’s importance of biodiversity in protected areas, improving management and financially sustainability, supporting the local communities, and advancing the parks’ infrastructure