Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for Saint Katherine Protectorate

  • The Government of Egypt is planning to upgrade and expand the city of St. Katherine, and the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities (MHUUC) has prepared a Master Plan in this regard.  However, potential unsustainable urban and tourism-related development in this area of great ecological and cultural significance can have a major negative impact on surrounding ecosystems and therefore can become a major threat to biodiversity, local culture and tradition. The “Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Tourism Development” (MBTD) Project is supporting the MHUUC in the development of a sustainable and environmentally-friendly Master Plan.
  • In this regard, Environics has been commissioned by MBTD to prepare a SEA for the proposed development.
  • Accordingly, Environics has defined the Area of Influence (AoI) of the proposed development and assessed the Saint Katherine upgrade and expansion Master Plan versus the area bio-physical and socio-cultural sensitivities to highlight potential constraints and inconsistencies of the development, as well as to provide recommendations for the integration of the environmental and social dimensions to the Master Plan.
  • Environics focused on the project components taken into account by the urban planner interacting with and potentially affecting the environmental and social features of the area; the scope of work encompassed:
    • Review of the preliminary Master Plan provided by the urban planner, as well as other secondary data provided by MBTD;
    • A review of the legal and regulatory framework to which the project should abide;
    •  A thorough desktop review of reports and studies describing the bio-physical and socio-economic environment of the Saint Katherine Protected Area complemented by an analysis of satellite images;
    • Investigating dominant trends and dynamics based on the advent of development, through the analysis of historical satellite imagery, as well as remote interviews with local key informants; and
    • Identification of an exhaustive list of stakeholders as well as their proposed representatives.
  • Based on these activities, Environics developed a map of the project’s footprint and its AoI through defining the extent of potential impacts related to the development and its associated facilities, whenever possible.
  • A detailed analysis of the environmental and socio-cultural features falling within the project’s AoI was carried out and the sensitivities that could be affected by the development have been highlighted. Accordingly, a map showing the entire set of sensitivities (physical, ecological and socio-cultural) was developed.
  • Following the preparation of the sensitivity map, a Master Plan assessment has been carried out to include:
    • A SWOT analysis focused on sensitivity aspects, to complement the one developed by the urban planners; and
    • An assessment of the likely impacts of the proposed development to disclose potential impacts that can be mitigated and those eventually requiring a modification to the Master Plan.
  • Accordingly, a set of recommendations has been provided, including: suitable mitigation measures; planning recommendations; and criteria for project components.

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