ABU DHABi // A new online atlas provides information on the history, geography, culture and biodiversity of the capital through videos and graphics.
The atlas is an evolution of the hard copy developed by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (Ead) in December last year, and will be used as a teaching resource at all state schools in Abu Dhabi.
The content is divided into nine themes, including information on various heritage sites, the number of underground wells and various trees and marine life.
Video narrations, case studies, and expandable visuals provide facts, figures and a timeline that outlines the capital's sustainability goals.
"The aim of developing this atlas was to tackle the gap in environmental education among the public," said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the secretary general of Ead.
"It also has enriching information for pupils and has been designed to supplement the school curriculum."
The programme is part of the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative 2007-2012 plan to provide user-friendly access to environment-related information.
Fozeya Al Mahmoud, the acting director of the Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Division at Ead, said the website can be a used for reference by students, teachers, researchers and the general public.
"It provides ideas for conservation, solutions and ways to tackle Abu Dhabi's most pressing environmental challenges," she said.
Pie charts show the amount of water consumption in various sectors and industries in the emirate while pop-up illustrations on thematic maps highlight heritage areas, and the location of trees and animals.
"It addresses the water-scarcity issues and explains the environmental burden of desalination."
She said the sound effects, films, quizzes and lesson plans made it a perfect learning resource for young children.
"It caters to all styles of learning and will teach children to acquire knowledge independently as well."
Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, the director general of the Abu Dhabi Education Council, said the initiative supports the council's efforts to provide more hands-on learning for pupils.
"We want to move away from the traditional rote learning system," he said. "It helps children become lifelong learners."
Fatima Al Bastaki, the principal of the Mubarak Bin Mohammed School, which has already begun using the online atlas in classes, said it also promotes national identity.
"Many children are not aware of Abu Dhabi's past and how it has developed over the years," she said.
"All this is provided in the atlas which they can access easily at home as well."
Ghalyah Al Hammadi, 11, says the site makes her geography lessons fun.
"Books are boring. I love seeing the videos on the natural resources," said Ghalyah, a pupil at Mubarak Bin Mohammed School.
"I have learnt about where we can find underground water and its quality."
The interactive atlas can be viewed at www.environmentalatlas.ae