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Important Plant Areas of Egypt

Number of IPAs: 20

River and desert landscape

20 IPAs have been identified in Egypt. 10 are located within the Mediterranean region and 5 of these contain single country endemics or very restricted range species.


Egypt is situated in the southeast of the Mediterranean Sea. Her coast includes the delta of the River Nile which bifurcates north of Cairo into two branches that enter the Mediterranean at Rosetta and Damietta promontories.

Egypt’s diverse flora contains over 2,300 vascular plant species and subspecies, and approximately 190 species and subspecies of mosses and hepatics. This reflects the long Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts combined with Egypt’s position between Africa and Asia. Four floral zones are recognised: Mediterranean-Sahara regional transition zone, Sahara- Sindian regional zone, Irano-Turanian regional centre of endemism and Sahel regional transition zone.


The Mediterranean IPAs of Egypt consist of five coastal lakes or lagoons, including the only oligotrophic hypersaline lake on the Egyptian Mediterranean coast and three lakes within the Nile Delta; as well as the limestone mountains of North Sinai, the coastal ridges and depressions of Omayed Biosphere Reserve, the Moghra Oasis, the oolitic sands of the Western Mediterranean coastal dunes and the plateau of Sallum on the border with Libya.

Plant Species

Significant species on these sites include the relict patches of Juniperus phoenica populations in North Sinai, Egyptian endemics Astragalus camelorum, Bellevallia salah-eidii, Bromus aegyptiacus, Sinapis allionii, Sonchus macrocarpus (of the coastal lagoons) and Anthemis microsperma, Atractylis carduus var. marmarica, Pancratium arabicum and Zygophyllum album var. album (of the coastal dunes).

Floristically, the richest IPA in Egypt is the mountainous Saint Katherine IPA. It contains around 500 vascular plant species and approximately 50% of Egypt’s endemic plant flora. This huge, protected site covers over 5,000 km2 of South Sinai and rises up to 2641 m; it is outside the Mediterranean region.


IPAs in Egypt face numerous threats, particularly from overgrazing, tourism and infrastructure related development, eutrophication and mineral extraction.

Further information

Important Plant Areas in Egypt with emphasis on the Mediterranean region

Research paper

Important Plant Areas of the south and east Mediterranean region

Find Egypt on pages 40-43