Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Coastline protected from development

Three coastal areas to be set aside as national parks as part of drive to protect wildlife and the environment in the UAE

ABU DHABI // Swathes of coastal land are to be protected from development under guidelines published yesterday in Abu Dhabi to balance land use in the emirate. The Coastal Development Guidelines, drawn up by the Urban Planning Council and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, cover the four coastal basins that extend from Al Dhabiya Island, just west of the capital, to the boundary with Dubai, where development pressures on coastal land are high.

Four zones have been designated with particular rules: ?fully protected reserves, where no construction is allowed; ?coastal conservation zones, in which limited building is allowed; ? coastal parks, where only visitor facilities are permitted; ? stewardship zones, which are set aside for development. Thabit al Abdessalaam, the agency's marine director in biodiversity management, said: "It's very important that in the development of the emirate that we should be sustainable and that there's clear demarcation of areas that need to be conserved. There needs to be a balance between environmental needs and development."

There are three areas proposed as fully protected nature reserves or national parks, where no construction will be allowed: the Bul Syayeef area, the Eastern mangroves just off Abu Dhabi island, and Ras Ghanadah near Ghantoot, which is home to some of the emirate's most extensive coral reefs. Bul Syayeef is already designated by the environmental agency as a marine protected area, with its tidal mudflats and salt marshes essential to marine birds such as the greater flamingo. These guidelines reinforce that classification.

Majid al Mansouri, secretary general of the agency, said: "The areas that have been identified for protection include those areas that contribute to Abu Dhabi's overall biodiversity including, intertidal mudflats, mangroves, seagrass meadows and coral reefs." These areas, which provide essential natural protection from shoreline erosion; filtration; and nutrient recycling, are nursing grounds for important fish species and home to migratory sea birds and endangered wildlife, he said.

The Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone, planned for Ras Ghanadah, is not inside the area given protected status, according to the planning council. Ecological hotspots have also been designated for areas too small or near to development to become fully protected areas, but still worth preserving. One such spot is just off Saadiyat Island, where there is a large coral cluster. "Coastal parks" are sea or intertidal areas that are submerged at high tide. Here, construction is limited to visitor facilities. Coastal parks and ecological hotspots are exempt from dredging or any other activities that physically alter the environment.

Areas classed as "coastal conservation zones" include Bahraini Island and Futaisi Island, to the west of the capital. Here there is some development, but further building must follow strict guidelines. Neil Mallen, planning manager for the environment at the planning council, said: "Coastal conservation zones were assigned for the underdeveloped islands around Abu Dhabi where development is allowed, but there are restrictions so that they retain their character. We don't want them to become the next Reem Island."

The final designation is "coastal stewardship zones", in which towns and developments are permitted. "The intent is that they will be self-sufficient, with jobs available within the community," Mr Mallen said. "We also expect them to, to some extent, generate their own water and power and manage their own waste disposal." These areas include South Hodariyat Island, Coastal Bahia, north-west Yas Island and Ghantoot.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Walter Zenga is one win away from claiming silverware for the first time in the UAE. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga seeks early retribution at Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup final

A victory over Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup final will help prove the Italian has turned around the fortunes of the capital club.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National