Yemen hosts a variety of habitats which range from coastal mangroves, shrub lands and dunes along the coastal plains to the eastern deserts and an array of montane habitats that reach elevations of up to 3760 m at Jabel Al-NabiShauib, the highest point on the Arabian Peninsula. For millennia, the Yemeni people were able to utilize their biological resources in a sustained fashion. In recent decades, however, the area of natural habitat has decreased or been degraded, through over-exploitation of range resources, land conversion, poor agricultural practices and the pressures of an ever expanding population with a current growth rate of some 3.5% per annum, one of the highest rate in the region.
Yemen’s habitats harbour a great number of unique species of plants. Plant populations are thought to have declined considerably, and agricultural production has undergone dramatic changes due to the expansion of Qat plantations at the expense of other crops. The centuries old harmonious relationship of people and environment that has characterized Yemen’s culture and history is rapidly disappearing. These alarming trends demand urgent conservation attention, if even representative portions of Yemen’s natural biotic wealth are to remain for future generations.