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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 21 April 2018

Thousands of native trees to be planted in Abu Dhabi wetlands 

Native tarfa, ghada and ghaf species can tolerate extreme heat and will enhance habitats and reduce noise 

Razan Al Mubarak, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi secretary general, and Adel Albuainain, chief executive of Dolphin Energy, planting the trees at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. Courtesy EAD
Razan Al Mubarak, Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi secretary general, and Adel Albuainain, chief executive of Dolphin Energy, planting the trees at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve. Courtesy EAD

At least 2,500 native trees are to be planted at Al Wathba wetlands to enhance habitats, improve vegetation cover and reduce noise.

It is the third phase of Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba Wetland Reserve "habitat rehabilitation programme" and was launched on Thursday.

Tarfa will be the main native tree species planted as it can tolerate extreme heat, drought and salinity. Other species include the ghada, arak and ghaf. All these species need very little water and minimum care for survival.

To start the third phase, which will last for two months, Razan Al Mubarak, the EAD’s secretary general and Adel Albuainain, chief executive of Dolphin Energy, planted a number of seedlings at the reserve.

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"We are delighted to partner with Dolphin Energy to rehabilitate Al Wathba Reserve. This will help contribute to the improvement of the natural habitat within the reserve and strengthen its role as a scientific centre for bird conservation research especially migratory birds," said Ms Al Mubarak.

Mr Albuainain said: “We have an obligation to protect our natural resources and ensure we conserve and enhance the natural world and its positive impact on society and our economy. Moving forward, we will continue to collaborate with leading institutions such as the EAD to address challenges such as the need to protect biodiversity and combat the effects of climate change.”

The programme began in 2017 will last for three years through four phases. The first and second phases included the design and installation of an irrigation system along the reserve.

It covers an area of ​​about 5 square kilometres and is home to more than 4,000 greater flamingos, 260 species of birds and also provides a safe haven for many other species of reptiles, small mammals and insects.

The programme is also in line with The Year of Zayed as it honours the UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed's commitment to sustainability. In 1998, after he observed the successful breeding of the flamingo for the first time at Al Wathba, he established the site as a protected area. Today the reserve is the only site in the UAE where flamingos continue to breed regularly. Additionally there are 19 terrestrial and marine protected areas in the emirate under the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network, and they benefit from the highest level of legal protection. EAD manages this network, which today represents 15.43 per cent of the emirate’s terrestrial environment and 13.45 per cent of its marine environment.

Since it was opened to the public in 2014, Al Wathba has attracted about 20,000 visitors and is open to the public from mid-October until the end of April.