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Public parks are essential resources in any environment. Various activities can be undertaken in such parks that can enhance both physical and environment health. Furthermore, public parks might also facilitate or discourage certain behavioral patterns depending on how they are designed. On the same note, features within parks are equally useful in overall recreation. This journal presents daily entries of observations made when I visited Asir national park in Saudi Arabia.
Journal entry on Asir park visit: 2nd of August 2010
I walked for about 30 minutes into Asir national park. It was on a Saturday at 11:00 am, a time when all the usual activities in the park are at the peak. The park covers an approximate area of 1,650 square kilometers and is situated in the southern part of Saudi Arabia.
On leaving the park, I could hear several species of birds whistling all over. As I was standing at the entrance, I realized that there was a map at the gate colored in orange and green dots to enable tourists trace certain sites within the park. Besides, I took note of the infrastructural facilities in the park. They included parking bay, public toilets, concrete seats, water taps, hiking paths and play grounds.
Picture 1: A map located at the entrance of the park to assist visitors in locating specific sites.
As I was walking past the park at around noon, I came across a summit of the states highest mountain known as Jebel Sawdah. The atmosphere felt calm with nice scent of certain species of fauna around the park. They include the Dorcas gazelle and sand cats that were busy hunting in packs. Moreover, I spotted an Arabian Oryx which is a common species of antelopes roaming freely along the park valleys. I felt fond of the antelopes and sand cats to an extent of getting convinced on the importance of preserving such species for their scenic value.
Picture 2: Some of the animal species I encountered in the park.
Dorcas Gazelle Sand cat.
Monkeys Journal entry on Asir park visit: 7th August 2010
Once again, I paid a visit to the park at 9.00 am and anticipating to take more time in learning. I held more essence on weather in the park as it was quite calm and conducive ready to welcome vocational visitors. Comparing the weather to that of my home place, the place was rather hot though both were experiencing summer season.
However, from a subjective point of view, I learnt that the park normally freezes during winter season and it is occasionally covered with fog. Nevertheless, from the way temperatures were down, I was able to infer that there was probability of having fog at night due to fall of heat. Meanwhile, I took time to observe vegetation in the park. Actually, the plants had already shed off their leaves and flowers though some appeared green. There were far elongating juniper forests that appeared green all down the valleys of the park.
Picture 3: An illustration of how temperatures are low at night resulting into fog at the park.
Picture 4: Vegetation found in the park (juniper forests).
The natural environment did not only comprised of mountains and forests but also grazing lands, marine and terrace agriculture. In my opinion, I got convinced on the need of the government in Saudi Arabia to conserver the juniper forests. In this case, I came to realization that the forests played a major role in protecting the watersheds and control run-off water.
Moreover, I remembered of some years back when the forests were used to provide wood, medicine and pasture for livestock. Additionally, I flashbacked on those moments when local tribes inhabited the forests turning them into ruins. Comparing with the present state of the forests, I embraced the efforts made by forest guards in maintaining the ecosystem.
Picture 5: Sample of marine features (ecosystem) located in the park.
Picture 6: Sample of diverse features found in the park (terrestrial ecosystem).
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Journal entry on Asir park visit: 10th September 2010
Definitely, this time, I was interested in finding out on the benefits which local inhabitants derive from the ecosystems in the park. From a secondary objective, I interviewed some natives from the neighborhoods. This interview and observations commenced at 2:00 pm and ended at 4:00 pm. From the information gathered, I comprehended that the terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems within the park was of vital use.
People obtained food, water, fuel, recreation and security from them. However, I noted that benefits of fuel were not depended on anymore due to increased consumption of oil and gas energy. A survey conducted from the local inhabitants confirmed that invention of better sources of cleaner energy decreased the rate of wood-cutting. Moreover, such ecosystems offered an ample ground for research in academics.
However, I noted some changes in the life of the people inhabiting the site. Due to improved social-economic conditions in the state, people have the tendency of turning the park in agricultural land.
Consequently, from my own qualitative study, I attributed this as due to population explosion forcing people to seek more land for settlement. Meanwhile, the government raced to counter local activities of clearing the park for agriculture. To shed light on this, there is a foreseeable future that the park might be at risk due to economic advancement unless land-use strategy is enhanced.
So far, I had already monitored all areas of interest to study in my current and future visits in Asir Park. I was interested to examine biodiversity of animal and plant species in the terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems within Asir national park. It is evident that most of the country’s regions are barely arid.
Some parts in the park had sparse vegetation comprising of thorny herbs and shrubs. However, vegetation in high altitude areas was green, luxuriant and thick. For this reason, I realized that variation and distribution of species in all the ecosystems were influenced by altitude.
Most importantly, I analyzed that destruction of rangeland highly influenced distribution of terrestrial species of animals like antelopes, hyenas, jackals and wild cats. The latter also contributed to suppressed growth of plants such as herbs and shrubs. On further analyses; I inferred that the present state of rangelands was no longer in position to support even the domestic fauna and flora in the immediate surrounding. This activity started from11:00 am and ended at1:00 pm.
Journal entry on Asir park visit: 5th December 2010
From the previous observation made in Asir national park, I found it worthy to take time and study the impact of human influence on natural recourses situated at the park. I spent several hours having entered the park at 7:00 pm and terminated my study at about 4:00 pm.
Consequently, I majored on issues of pollution and development activities carried out within the park. Rumors had it that irrespective of the benefits derived from Asir Park, pollution was rampant. For instance, sources of air pollution within the park included illegal burning of charcoal which led to emission of toxic gases.
At some point, I could smell gaseous emissions from charcoal burning. Furthermore, I remembered of incidences when Mount Jebel would emit certain gases that were highly toxic leading to death of certain species of animals in the park. In addition to this, water pollution was also evident. However, only the waters that ran through the coastal areas were at risk of being contaminated by effluence from certain manufacturing firms.
For instance, several cases of oil spills along the coastal regions stretching into the park resulted into destruction of both aquatic and marine life. Having conducted a qualitative research within the neighborhood of the park, I found out that several species of flora and fauna had been threatened by water pollution. Nevertheless, the government had spent million of shillings to improve and expand sewerage systems.
Moreover, several measures were being taken to limit pollution within the pack such as warning visitors against dumping litters all over the pack. I also noted some differences in the current state of the park compared to previous visits. It was evident that pollution had significantly subsided with time.
Journal entry on Asir park visit: 9th December 2010
The last day visit at the park was an important opportunity for me to participate in a conference that was intended to educate visitors and indigenous people on the benefits of conserving natural resources within the park. In the conference, I observed that people were keen to learn the significance of the park and also ready to take initiative to conserve natural park resources. I felt honored to cooperate with local people in conservancy activities so as to ensure the park become a better place for recreation and home for bio-species.