Ecosystems

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.  These habitats harbour a great number of unique species of plants. Rapid degradation of the environment, a direct result of desertification and droughts, among the oldest global environmental phenomena, are drastically reducing the country's vegetation cover and posing severe threats to wildlife, including many endemic species.

Over the last several decades, 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.  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.

The unique geographical position between the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, and at the junction point of the Red sea and Arabian Sea has given Yemen different climatic and topographical features, which are favorable for the existence of divers ecosystems along with a high level of biodiversity. Broadly, Yemen is divided into 7 physiographic regions. These are: Coastal plains; low altitude mountains; medium altitude mountains; high altitude mountains; highland plains, eastern/ northeast mountains; eastern desert and Socotra island. Yemen’s vegetation types, their habitats, population and distribution are  summarized in table.