Erwda plans to build network of protected areas

A Staff Reporter
Filed on September 16, 2003

DUBAI - An interesting illustrated discussion on Desert Ecology and Archaeology of Abu Dhabi's Umm Al Zumoul area was held during a meeting of the Dubai Natural History Group on Sunday at the Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management.

Dr Chris Drew of the Terrestrial Environment Centre at Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (Erwda) in Abu Dhabi said that the Umm Al Zumoul area is one of Erwda's proposed protected areas in 2003, and that they had undertaken several surveys on the area's vegetation, birds, mammals, reptiles, landscape, environmental impact, and archaeology, among others.

"Hopefully, we will develop a network of protected areas in the country," Dr Drew said, adding that the agency's other proposed protected areas in the UAE include Sweihan, Al Dhaher, and southwest Al Dhafra.

Among the findings after a site description prepared by Erwda were the existence of five major ecosystems as well as an even distribution of wildlife apart from the eight species recorded in Umm Al Zumoul area. The mammals in the area include the sand fox, sand cat, desert hare, lesser jerboa, Cheesmans gerbil, among others.

Summer temperature in Umm Al Zumoul can exceed 50 degrees Celsius, while temperature during the winter can go as low as 5 degrees Celsius. Rainfall is highly variable with storm events in 2003 yielding 125mm of rainfall.

Meanwhile, Dubai Natural History Group has scheduled lectures on 'Freshwater life in the UAE' by John Burt in October and 'Parasites and how they find their hosts' by Dr Rolf Shuster in November.

The group's forthcoming field trips include a visit to the Falcon Hospital and Saluki Breeding Centre, Arabia's Wildlife Centre and a dhow trip.

Founded in 1994, the Dubai Natural History Group is a non-profit, volunteer-run organisation which aims at furthering the interests of its members in the wildlife and environment.

Monthly lectures on natural history, archaeology, and other related topics as well as periodical field trips are being conducted by the group.

Chairman Gary Fuelner said that the group currently comprises 275 to 300 members. Membership fee, which is valid till September 2004, is Dh100 for couples and Dh50 for singles.

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