x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

A native canopy

Urban landscaping should take into account the arid environment as well as Abu Dhabi's character as an oasis city.

In many neighbourhoods of Abu Dhabi this winter, residents might have been dismayed to watch the removal of certain trees from the urban landscape. For reasons not entirely clear, officials decided it was time for foliage, some decades old, to go. "We're trying to make it nicer than before," one city official told The National.

There are many ways to "make it nicer" and they're worth remembering as warm weather approaches, and shade is even more valuable.

Abu Dhabi's three-decade transformation from a desert outpost to a lush capital has been remarkable. But in the future, it is equally important to recognise the importance of managing the environmental impact of this growth, and the costs of maintaining it.

As the city takes a leading role in the field of energy conservation thanks to initiatives like Masdar, sound environmental practices must become just as important as aesthetic considerations.

Non-native plants and trees that require more water than indigenous ones can be more pleasing to the eye, but in the end they do more harm than good.

Sheikh Zayed understood and appreciated this when turning Sir Bani Yas into a thriving nature reserve. His vision for the island was to be a haven for local endangered plants and animals. As the Emirates continue to prosper and grow, some things may be best left to mother nature.