x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Ajman nature reserve to protect plants and birds

The area has been fenced off for 30 years and is 'untouched'.

ajman // An unspoilt area has been declared a nature reserve as part of the emirate's effort to protect 10 per cent of its land and sea.

The 1.1 square kilometre plot, known as Al Naseem, was donated last month by Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid, Ruler of Ajman, who has owned the land since the 1980s.

According to Sheikha Hassan Al Shehhi, the head of Ajman's environment protection unit, the land is "virgin", as it has been fenced off for 30 years.

She said it has been completely untouched by development.

"The area outside the land looks sick, very tired and poor, but inside the fence nature has been living and growing all by itself for many years," she said.

The land, which lies in the emirate's Manama region, will be used as a natural science laboratory to study the birds and plants there.

Khalid Al Hosni, the director of public health and environment at Ajman municipality, said there would be a two-phase development plan for the Al Naseem area.

The first step, in collaboration with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi and the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority, involves cultivating the species found there.

"We want to bring more wildlife to Al Naseem, including plants and animals, but only those that are natural to the area," said Mr Al Hosni.

The research teams have already found two bird species and three types of plants.

Phase two, which is to take place next year, involves building an education centre to serve as a platform for students, biologists and other scientists interested in studying the land.

This is the second area in Ajman to be protected, after Al Zorah mangrove area was declared a nature reserve in 2004.

Mr Al Hosni hopes to attract the interest of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) to further protect Al Naseem, as it is "very important for Ajman and the environment".

molson@thenational.ae