Socotra Archipelago is among the world's richest in terms of indigenous species. Declared a biosphere reserve by the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme, the islands — which lie off the coasts of Yemen and Somalia in the Indian Ocean — are often compared to the Galápagos.
In this article, Eva Sohlman chronicles the efforts of microbiologist Abdulkarim Al-Eryani, an adviser to Yemen's president, who is spearheading a mission to protect Socotra from the ravages of tourism. Plans are already afoot to build hotels, a golf course and a casino on the main island.
Al-Eryani hopes to build on local and UN-backed schemes to create an ecotourist society on Socotra. In the latest of these, the UN Development Programme pledged US$5 million last year to establish sustainable fisheries and improve management of protected areas.
Reference: Science 303, 1753 (2004)