International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) defines nature reserves as a protected area that has a clearly defined geographical spaced, recognised, dedicated and managed, through legal or other effective means, to achieve the long term conservation of nature with associated ecosystems services and cultural values.
In the Sultanate of Oman, the basic objectives of establishing a conservation area include:
- to protect and conserve biodiversity;
- to conduct scientific research or environmental monitoring;
- to activate ecotourism;
- to benefit the local population; and
- protection of the natural habitat or the wildlife.
Specifications of conservation areas are the following:
- rare ecosystems and wilderness settlements
- existence of one of the species naturally worthy of management and attention
- existence of unusual wilderness settlements representing different units interacting naturally with each other
- beautiful natural beauty, and high scientific and research values
- tourist attractions, such as natural lakes, beaches, wilderness settlement and archaeological sites that reflect human heritage and civilisation
- existence of recurrent natural and environmental phenomena that attract the attention of scientists and researchers
- existence of human heritage, natural and geological formations, or distinctive architectural art
As of 2018, the Sultanate has classified its protected areas according to the global norms and has so far officially declared eighteen (18) conservation areas and/or natural reserves.
Updated as of January 2019.