Al Baydha Project
The Al Baydha Project, in rural, western Saudi Arabia, is a land restoration, poverty-alleviation, and heritage preservation program, based on principles of permacultural and hydrological design. Located roughly 50 kilometers (20 miles) south of Mecca, in Makkah Province, Al Baydha is an area characterized by the rocky, arid, foothills of the Hijaz Mountains. Bedouin tribes are the major residents of this region.
Founded in 2009 by Her Royal Highness Princess Haifa Al Faisal, Harvard University bioethicist and futurist Mona Hamdy, and Stanford University permaculturist Neal Spackman Al Baydha has begun to see practical and ecological results (shown here).
Most notably, Al Baydha's emphasis is on creating an economy for the inhabitants of Al Baydha that is socially, culturally, environmentally, and economically sustainable. The project's main objective is to create financial and social independence for the inhabitants by training, educating and employing them in the infrastructure and capacity building activities undertaken by the Al Baydha Project.
Al Baydha's environmental goal is the reversal of desertification. This is accomplished largely via rainwater harvesting, through utilization of rock terraces and gabions (or small check dams), as well as catchment of runoff into swale lines. These support afforestation of drought-resistant trees, such as date palms, in the natural landscape. Another focus of the program is on slowing down flash floods in the highlands, and, over time, converting them into seasonal streams or wadis, as shown here. In the long-term future, Al Baydha hopes to transform the region into a savanna ecosystem, in part, by means of assisted natural regeneration, conservation grazing, and the effects of evapotranspiration and atmospheric moisture recycling.
In 2016, the Al Baydha Project received a commendation from Prince Khaled Al Faisal for innovative work undertaken by the inhabitants of Al Baydha as a model of national excellence in humanitarianism, sustainability, and innovation.
For a video demonstration of these hydrological design techniques, with actual footage from the Al Baydha project, click here.
For a general introduction to the project, presented by Neal Spackman, click here. In a 2020 documentary about the Al Baydha Project, Spackman has called the project "a testament to the potential of regenerative agricultures and a template for the reforestation of millions of desert landscapes in the Arabian peninsula and beyond."
- Desert greening
- Water conservation
- Land surface effects on climate
- Regenerative agriculture
- Agroecological restoration
- Farmer-managed natural regeneration
- Restoration ecology
- Applied ecology
- Ecological design
- Sustainable engineering
- Environmental restoration
- Conservation agriculture
- Sustainable agriculture
- Natural landscaping
- Sustainable landscaping
- Sahara Forest Project
- Wadi Rum Consultancy
- Appropriate technology
- Hima (environmental protection)
- Check dam
- Sand dam
- Keyline design, a system of maximizing water resources in landscapes
- Brad Lancaster, developer of water conservation designs in arid environments
- John D. Liu, conservation ecologist and presenter of documentary films Hope in a Changing Climate and Green Gold (Regreening the Desert)
- Carl Hodges, developer of sea canals as a means to irrigate deserts
- Blue Gold: World Water Wars
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- "Harvard Scholar Mona Hamdy".
- kharecom (23 January 2017). "In Dialogue with: Mona Hamdy @ NOVUS 2016" – via YouTube.
- "Mona Hamdy - THNK School of Creative Leadership".
- "Permaculture at the Al-Baydha Project in Saudi Arabia - Neal Spackman, Video 1 - The Permaculture Research Institute". 14 January 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 2016-05-22.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Planting Days Are Here! (Al Baydha, Saudi Arabia) - The Permaculture Research Institute". 9 November 2012.
- "20 months of growth on swales in Saudi Arabia: Two rainfalls since 2010 (greening the desert forum at permies)". www.permies.com.
- "لقاء الامير خالد الفيصل في برنامج المختصر".
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- "From Desert to Oasis in 4 Years". 1 February 2014.
- "The Story of Al Baydha: A Regenerative Agriculture in the Saudi Desert. قصة مشروع البيضاء".