Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 26 January 2020

Sharjah reserve recognised as 'Wetland of International Importance'

UAE is home to 11 of the 2,200 designated Ramsar sites

A nature reserve in the heart of Sharjah has been named a 'Wetland of International Importance' by a global conservation agreement.

The Ramsar Convention, an intergovernmental treaty that works towards the conservation of wetlands, recognised the Wasit Nature Reserve as an area of global importance for its biodiversity and environmental value.

The 4.5 sq km reserve was established by Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, in 2007. On Saturday it became the third protected area in the emirate to be listed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands - following the Mangroves Protected Area in Kalba City and Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area.

Wasit Nature Reserve is overseen by Sharjah's Environment and Protected Areas Authority, who describe the area as the "lung of Sharjah" because its plants purify the air from harmful emissions and dust. The land is rich in biodiversity and is home to 198 different species of birds, as well as the great variety of small mammals, reptiles and insects. Rare species of insects have been spotted and recorded for the first time in the UAE at the reserve, according to the EPAA.

The UAE is one of 170 signatories to the Ramsar Convention and is home to 11 of the 2,200 designated Ramsar sites.

Wetlands purify the air and water, regulate humidity levels and water flow, prevent flooding and drought, serve as nurseries and sanctuaries for wildlife and protect shorelines from erosion and natural disasters.

Yet their environmental superpowers are usually overlooked.

Thy are being destroyed at three times the rate of forests, even though they can store twice as much carbon.

“All the water we use comes directly or indirectly form wetlands,” said Martha Urrego, the Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetland during a Ramsar summit held in Abu Dhabi last year. “That is to say that they purify water. Wetlands are the kidneys of the earth.”

Updated: July 20, 2019 03:56 PM