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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Sheikh Khalifa marks UAE National Environment Day

February 4th a chance to be mindful of our levels of consumption, says President

President Sheikh Khalifa said that this year’s National Environment Day, which the country is celebrating today, should be marked in the spirit that Sheikh Zayed brought to matters of natural heritage.

The Founding Father always cultivated a respect for our natural resources as a reminder of our responsibility for sustainable levels of consumption, Sheikh Khalifa said.

The excessive consumption of the UAE’s resources of any kind is to the outright detriment of our children’s and grandchildren’s future, the President said, according to Wam.

In previous years, there were great strides in efforts to conserve resources, on sea and land, including the enactment of many pieces of legislation to ensure their safety, he said.

“We have also adopted many ambitious national strategies to transform our national economy into a green economy that pays great attention to the environment and the preservation of its resources,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

This includes ambitious targets for producing power from clean and renewable sources of energy such as solar.

The UAE has worked to preserve groundwater stocks and helped farmers to develop more modern and environmentally friendly practices in agriculture, including conservation of fish and livestock resources.

UAE waters are home to as many as 30 shark species, which are classified as endangered or critically endangered and a five-month ban on shark fishing began on Thursday.

Sheikh Khalifa said that the country is keen to establish more natural reserves and programmes for the protection of wildlife, particularly endangered species.

A conservation reserve that spans 10 per cent of the Dubai emirate’s total area was launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, last month.

The Marmoom Reserve project will be the first unfenced desert conservation reserve in the country and will host more than 20 environmental, cultural and sports initiatives.

Spanning more than 40 hectares of shrub land, the reserve is home to more than 204 species of native birds, 158 species of migratory birds, and 10 km of lakes, encompassing the Al Qudra Lakes.

The new project will include 10 animal and bird observation platforms, star and sunset observations decks, areas for yoga, an outdoor theatre and will be powered by a 5,000 megawatt solar power complex. Al Marmoom is home to 26 species of reptiles, nine mammal species, and 39 species of plants. It provides a sanctuary for 19 species of endangered animals and birds and houses between 300 to 500 large flamingos - the highest concentration in a desert region in the country.

According to Wam yesterday, Sheikh Khalifa said that the UAE will continue to use advances in technology and innovation to support these conservation efforts. The President called on government institutions to do more to complement legislative and institutional frameworks and implement more programmes and raise awareness levels further.

“We still have a busy future, and we are all hopeful that our efforts will be made with significant and substantial changes not only to the level of awareness of members of society but also to their patterns of resource consumption,” Sheikh Khalifa said.

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February 4 was designated as National Environment Day by the Cabinet more than 20 years ago to acknowledge the growing attention and commitment of the country toward efforts in the field of conservation and the environment.

This year it is being celebrated under the theme Sustainable Production and Consumption, as irrational production and consumption of resources are among the main reasons behind environmental degradation in today’s world, according to the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

The key factors behind this trend include a surge in income levels and population growth, globalised trade and technological advancement.

As a result forest areas have degraded, CO2 emissions have increased and with it have come higher levels of air pollution.

On Friday, February 2, the UAE marked World Wetlands Day with a celebration of the nation’s rich mangrove plantations and other resources.

Analysis of satellite images acquired from the King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology recently published in Environmental Monitoring and Assessment show that the UAE is now home to nearly 50 per cent of all mangroves in the region. Moreover, the mangrove coverage in the Emirates has nearly doubled.