Minister calls for use of native plants

The use of native plants in landscaping will benefit the economy of the UAE, said Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, during a Municipal Best Practices Forum on Wednesday.

By Aisha Tariq

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Published: Wed 18 Apr 2012, 11:14 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:58 PM

“There is a need to use native plants in landscaping. The municipalities are aware of this need and the economic benefits of making this happen,” he said. The forum is taking place to enable government representatives and other experts to exchange information on why and how native plants should be incorporated into the nation’s cityscapes. Authorities from across the nation emphasised that significant amounts of water and money could be saved by growing native plants instead of more water-dependent flora. Dr Helal Al Kaabi of Al Ain City Municipality shared the results of a landscaping project that replaced exported plants with those that grow naturally in the region.

“We saved more than 90 per cent of water through the use of these plants because they need very small quantity of water both in the winter and summer. The desalination process requires a fortune and we need to reduce its cost in the UAE,” said Dr Al Kaabi, adding that the switch reduced the project’s operational costs by 45 per cent.

Dr Abdul Sattar Salih Al Mashhadani of Abu Dhabi Municipality’s Parks and Recreational Facilities pointed out that a change in landscaping practices did not have to be limited to indigenous plants. According to Dr Al Mashhadani, the designation of “native plant” should extend to vegetation that grows on its own after being introduced into the environment. “Native plants can be increased if we benefit from the research and studies which target other plants that are adaptive, that can resist the dry climate,” he explained. Other participants also recommended an increase in scientific study and information sharing on the UAE’s native plant population as a strategy to support its presence. “In this forum, we call for the establishment of a centre for the research of native plants and also for the creation of a database to preserve information on our natural resources,” said Majid Al Mansouri, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipal Affairs.

Environmental protection also forms a guiding principle of the efforts to promote naturally occurring flora. “Native plants in many places are exposed to misuse and abuse,” said Nabil Mahfoudh of Dubai Municipality, describing another challenge to the region’s flora.

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