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Five UAE sites identified as areas of global biological and ecological importance

posted on 27/05/2015: 2510 views



The UAE has identified five sites as areas of global biological and ecological importance during the recently-concluded regional workshop on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSAs) in the North-Western Indian Ocean and the neighbouring Gulf region, announced the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The Southwest Waters of Abu Dhabi, Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, Jebel Ali, Sir Bu Na'air Island & Khor Kalba, recognised for rich environmental biodiversity, were identified five sites as areas of biological and ecological importance globally during the recently concluded regional workshop on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSA) in the North-Western Indian Ocean and the neighbouring Gulf region.

The Southwest Waters of Abu Dhabi and Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve in Abu Dhabi, Jebel Ali in Dubai, and Sir Bu Na'air Island and Khor Kalba in Sharjah were recognised for their rich and unique environmental biodiversity during a regional meeting held at the City Season Suites Hotel in Dubai hosted by the UAE government.

The Ministry of Environment and Water hosted the regional workshop on Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas (EBSA) in the North-Western Indian Ocean and the neighbouring Gulf region in cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the Regional Office for Western Asia of the United Nations Environment Programme, the Office of Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals - Abu Dhabi, the Regional Organisation for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment, and the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) which aimed to identify important marine areas in the region.

The workshop was attended by representatives from the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Jordan, Sudan, Eritrea, Pakistan, India as well as international and regional organisations.

During the event, the UAE's five marine ecologically important areas were evaluated based on the criteria established during the 9th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. They were assessed according to their biological uniqueness or rarity, with special emphasis on the stages and phases of local species' life cycle. The criteria also looked into the importance of the region to endangered species as well as the degradation of habitats and their sensitivity, biological productivity and diversity, and other natural features.

Mariam Saeed Hareb, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Water Resources and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Water, said, "By recognising their aquatic ecological importance, we are highlighting the significance of conserving the open oceans and high seas for the survival of all marine species. Our intensified conservation efforts have been bearing fruit thanks to the hard work, cooperation and perseverance of everyone. We have efficiently and effectively protected the local species, especially the endangered ones, and their numbers are steadily thriving."

"However, more work still needs to be done to save our ecological system from further degradation. We hosted the regional workshop in line with the UAE Government's strong commitment to promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability. Our success story in our conservation efforts is clearly shown by what we have accomplished so far in these five ecologically important zones," Engineer Mariam Saeed Hareb, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Water Resources and Nature Conservation, Ministry of Environment and Water.

In Abu Dhabi, the Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve comprises a range of unique marine and coastal habitats including sand flats, mangroves, sea grass beds and coral reefs. These are especially important to migratory and endangered species. Moreover, the reserve supports the second largest population of dugongs in the world after Australia. The area also provides crucial nurseries and spawning grounds for a wide variety of fish species. It serves as a foraging habitat for the critically endangered hawksbill turtles and green turtles as well.

The Southwest Waters of Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, are rich in critical habitats such as mangroves, sea grass beds, coral reefs, algal mats, and sabkhas. These habitats support an important spectrum of marine life including seabirds and migratory waders, a large population of critically endangered hawksbill turtles, and dugongs.

With a 2,185-hectare conservation area, Jebel Ali is the most important site in Dubai where the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle nests. Dolphins are also frequent visitors, particularly the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. Jebel Ali is also home to diverse marine flora and fauna.

In Sharjah, meanwhile, Sir Bu Na'air Island houses more than 300 hawksbill turtle nests every year, the largest nesting population in the UAE. A unique island in the Arabia Gulf that was declared a protected area in 2000, it serves as a breeding ground for sea birds. It also boasts of mountains and a variety of minerals and sandy beaches with coral reefs extending all the way to the sandy sea bed.

Khor Kalba, which is also located in the emirate, is a stunning mangrove forest over the banks of a natural creek. Extending almost two kilometres, the area is home to endemic subspecies of avifauna as well as crabs, molluscs and reptiles.

Biodiversity conservation is a key pillar in promoting environmental sustainability in the country. This initiative is a strategic priority for the Ministry and is in line with UAE Vision 2021.

As part of the government's conservation efforts, the Ministry organises strategic initiatives such as the EBSA workshop, implements relevant resolutions, and participates in, and supports international conferences and conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281078178.html

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