This timely environment project will save unique species

One of the capital’s key biodiversity areas will be getting an environmental boost with the launch of the third phase of a sustainability initiative.

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As part of its Al Wathba Wetland Reserve Habitat Rehabilitation Programme, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) will plant 2,500 native trees over the next two months at Al Wathba site in a bid to increase vegetation and provide a natural barrier from noise pollution.

Founded in 1998 by the late Sheikh Zayed, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve comprises five
square kilometres of wetlands, salt flats and dunes, and is home to various species of wildlife, including flamingos, reptiles, small mammals and insects, as well as being a stop-off for migratory birds.

The goal of the rehabilitation project, which was established in 2017, is to protect and encourage the reserve’s unique biodiversity and improve habitat and vegetation for its animal population, while cementing its role as an environment and education site.

The first two phases of the initiative included the design and installation of an irrigation system within the reserve.

Among the trees to be planted in the third phase of the initiative will be ethel, locally known as tarfa, which is a hardy shrub that can survive in extreme heat and saline conditions, as well as ghaf, ghada and arak trees.

Commenting on the project, EAD secretary general Razan Al Mubarak highlighted the site’s status in local conservation: “This will help contribute to the improvement of the natural habitat within the reserve and strengthen its role as a scientific centre for bird conservation research, especially migratory birds.”

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, executive director of the terrestrial and marine biodiversity sector at EAD, explained that protecting the environment is a communal responsibility: “As we all share the same space and we all use the same resources, we believe that we depend on the ecosystems and environment to provide us with different services such as food, water, recreational spaces and clean air. Together, we believe that our role to sustain and help the environment to thrive would be stronger with the involvement of [the] public, and specifically [the] youth, who will become the future guardians and eco-stewards.”

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