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Habitat mapping key to conservation and sustainable development: EAD

posted on 16/06/2015: 2024 views

The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, EAD, has completed mapping of terrestrial and marine habitats, land use and land cover for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, covering 59,640 square kilometres of terrestrial and 28,220 square kilometres of marine environments.

This is possibly the largest and most detailed delineation of habitats in the world according to the EAD, adding that advanced image-processing techniques, together with validation through field surveys, have resulted in data accuracy exceeding 90 percent in land and 75 percent in marine areas.

An innovative mapping approach combined several terrestrial and marine habitats into an integrated classification schema. This powerful data set will allow environmental decision-making to be much more objective and quantitative.

Protected area delineation, environmental permitting, land-use and conservation planning, quantifying ecosystem services, estimating blue carbon, detecting land degradation and habitat loss, etc., are just some of the areas where the mapping is being utilised.

The main features of this project were highlighted at a high-level launch organised by EAD and attended by senior technical representatives from relevant government and non-government organisations and environmental consultants.

EAD's stakeholders and partners learned about terrestrial and marine habitat mapping and how they access the environmental Geoportal (enviroportal) and "Beatty" application to aid them in planning and preparation of environmental assessment studies for development proposals.

Speaking at the ceremony, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Secretary General of EAD, said, "As Abu Dhabi Emirate continues to follow sustainable development principles, the habitat database will enable better urban and conservation planning. The habitat map will also serve as an invaluable tool while responding to emergencies, such as oil spills, and help responders identify environmentally sensitive areas that are in need of immediate protection. We really are turning data into knowledge and the power to make better and more informed decisions."

"This project supports the UAE government's efforts to fulfil its commitment for the Convention on Biodiversity, CBD, to ensure that a minimum of 17% of terrestrial habitats and 10% of marine habitats are protected and conserved by 2020. The data produced by this project is helping us to realise this target with better management, better implementation strategies and scientifically justifiable policy decisions," Al Mubarak added. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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