The Kingdom sought assistance in conducting the necessary biological and social studies and surveys to prepare its protected areas national system with the expertise of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Experts from the Union and the NCWCD in 1991 prepared a document “A national system for conserving wildlife and sustainable rural development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” based on which the declared network of protected areas was established till the time being.
The system, which was recently updated according to environmental developments, includes a proposal to preserve 75 areas (including 62 terrestrial areas, 13 coastal and marine areas).
It is planned that the center will manage 35 protected areas (15 existing protected areas, and 20 proposed protected areas); Provided that 40 areas (existing and proposed) are managed by other bodies, including the natural parks of the Ministry of Agriculture in Riyadh, Asir, Taif and others, and the areas affiliated with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Emirates, the Royal Commission for Jubail, Yanbu and others. The total area of the proposed system is estimated at 10.42% of the Kingdom’s area, which is devoted to developing renewable natural resources in those areas for the benefit of mankind.
The currently existing protected areas include 15 protected areas (12 terrestrial protected areas and three marine protected areas) with the aim of preserving a set of integrated natural ecosystems, which are:, Jabal Shada, Majami al-Hadb, Jurf Raydah, 'Uruq Bani Ma'arid, , Harrat al-Harrah, Al-Khunfah, Ibex Reserve, Mahazat as-Sayd, Umm al-Qamari Islands, Al-Tubayq, Farasan Islands, al-Jubail Marine Wildlife Sanctuary., in addition to three areas that are considered as havens for the rehabilitation of Houbara: At-Taysiyah, Nafud al-'Urayq, Saja and Umm Ar-Rimth. These protected areas are operated by an administrative and technical specialized team that includes a scientific director for each protected area and a head of the rangers team who perform the task of ground surveillance to monitor wildlife species in the protected areas and prevent violations and abuses, and they are assisted by an air traffic control team.