ABU DHABI //At least 60,000 square metres of mangroves on Al Reem Island have been saved from destruction, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi said yesterday.
The mangroves, the only kind of trees in the world that can survive in salty water, were to be ripped up in a bid to widen the island's northern channel by 75 metres.
Located in the heart of the capital, the island has been earmarked for development, with three major Abu Dhabi companies building residential and commercial complexes there.
The island has lost more than half of its mangrove cover since building began in 2005. But the recent clearing plan had not been approved by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD).
"Before a company can begin developing or dredging the site of its development, it is required to apply for an environmental permit from EAD," said Eng Faisal Al Hammadi, deputy executive director of the environment quality sector at EAD. "This incident, as well as numerous other violations, was discovered when EAD inspectors were making one of their ad-hoc site visits.
"The two teams ceased the mangrove removal operation within a matter of hours.
"The developer was then asked to submit a mangrove management plan as a mitigation measure, and to provide compensation for the damaged areas which will be used to replant new mangroves in the area."
The agency did not reveal the name of the developer.