In 2004-8 Samy and I led an Italian-funded $1m international project (BioMAP) to improve biodiversity research and monitoring across all Egypt's Protected Areas. I took sabbatical leave from the School of Biology to live in Cairo while working in the Nature Conservation Sector of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, the body charged with running Egypt's Protected Areas.
The project developed a database of Egyptian biodiversity records, from which a stream of publications has resulted aimed at improving the scientific basis of conservation decision-making in Egypt, including the impact of climate change. BioMAP created a National Biodiversity Database of all taxonomic groups for the whole of Egypt, and piloted a web-delivered GIS-mapping method of communicating the results to everyone. It published a set of educational materials (see below, and here for full set)
Since the BioMAP project was not renewed, preventing us from completing the databases and the web-based delivery system, we established an NGO, the Nature & Science Foundation, to carry on its work. NSF ran OpWall Egypt each year in the summer from 2005-2013, bringing Bedu and young people together to map and monitor the biodiversity of South Sinai. We atlassed the park, trying systematically to visit and survey every 10-km square; by the end of 2013 we had covered 43 of the 63 squares of the park. The security situation in Egypt caused us to shut down OpWall Egypt.
To come with me to Cairo while running BioMAP, my wife Hilary gave up her job running the Derbyshire Community Foundation, which she had built up from nothing to an endowment of £3m in 9 years. She did a PhD looking at the South Sinai Bedu and the way they were coping with the advent of the modern world and Western conservation (in the form of the St Katherine Protectorate enclosing their land) (details here).
After the end of BioMAP, I returned to the UK and once again concentrated my research on South Sinai, but, stimulated by Hilary's study of the social impacts of conservation there, I accepted and adopted the people-centred view of conservation.
Newbold T, Reader T, El-Gabbas A, Berg W, Shohdi WM, Zalat S, Baha El Din S & Gilbert F. (2010) Testing the accuracy of species distribution models using species records from a new field survey. Oikos 119: 1326-34 [PDF]
Gilbert F, Zalat S & Bassiouny M. (2010) The Mammals of Egypt: Atlas, Red Data listing & Conservation. Illustrated by Ahmed Gheith. BioMAP & CultNat, EEAA & Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Cairo. [PDF (31MB)]
Newbold T, Reader T, Zalat S, El-Gabbas A & Gilbert F. (2009) Climate-based models of spatial patterns of species richness in Egypt's butterfly and mammal fauna. Journal of Biogeography 36: 2085-95 [PDF (31MB)]
Grainger J & Gilbert F. (2008) Cultural and spiritual values of Protected Landscapes - the St Katherine case study. pp. 21-37 in J-M Mallarach (ed) 'Values of Protected Landscapes and Seascapes: Protected Landscapes and Cultural and Spiritual Values'. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland [PDF]
Grainger J & Gilbert F. (2008) Fouda M, Grainger J, Salama W, Baha El Din S, Paleczny D, Zalat S & Gilbert F Management effectiveness evaluation of Egypt's Protected Area system. Report on the RAPPAM Workshop, Cairo 22nd to 23rd January 2006. Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, Maadi, Cairo.[pdf (69MB), cover]
Gilbert F & Zalat S. (2008) The Butterflies of Egypt: Atlas, Red Data listing & Conservation. Illustrated by Ahmed Gheith. BioMAP, EEAA, Cairo. [PDF]
Samy Zalat & Francis Gilbert (2006) Egyptian Farfousha: the Sinai Baton Blue. BioMAP project, EEAA, Maadi, Cairo. [old (en) pdf]
[old (ar) pdf] [young (en) pdf] [young (ar)
[movie (RM format) ]