Photos: Dubai gets a stunning new mangrove forest

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on April 19, 2021

The Mangroves Forest will comprise coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and a natural beach.

Dubai has now officially got a mangrove forest in the heart of the city in line with plans to have 60 per cent of Dubai’s land under forest cover over the next decades.

The Mangroves Forest located at the Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary will comprise coral reefs, mangroves, sea grass beds and a natural beach. Environmental experts will be using this specially designated land (protected area) next to the sea to develop it into a full-fledged forest. They intend to plant new mangroves and also adopt mangroves that are older (4 or 5 years old) to maximize the future carbon sequestration and offsetting potential. Mangroves also self-filtrate, removing irrigation from the equation making them ideal for water conservation.

Typically, a mangrove is a shrub or small tree that grows in coastal saline or brackish water. Major Ali Al Suweidi, President of EMEG, said, “The mangrove is a local species and we call it Sena Marina which is a special species in the Gulf. This species grows because of heat and we have salt water and therefore this species grows very well here. We started to plant this a long time back. We have mangroves in Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai. The reason we are planting this mangrove is because it soaks up five times more carbon dioxide than any plant. This is a good solution against global warming and other problems.

“This is the only plant where the roots come up instead of going down. So they come up to take salt water and make fresh water. It’s amazing. In Ras-Al-Khor Wildlife Sanctuary there are huge mangrove covers and here also we have 500 or more which is good for the environment,” he added.

While the area dedicated to mangroves is 15km, wetlands will make up 6km of the forest. “The wetland always has many kinds of birds. The mangrove is also good for crabs, oyster and it’s amazing to see them grow very well in this area and the gazelle also come here to take salt from here,” said Al Suweidi, who said the area will also be used for animal rescue and species preservation. Experts say mangroves are crucial to biodiversity health with three quarters of all tropical fish species born within mangrove forests.

The new sanctuary selected for the Forest is a place of global significance, a United Nations protected reserve that is being managed by Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) and has been included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

The Forest initiative also aligns with the UAE Vision 2021 objectives towards a more sustainable environment and is the latest in a series of innovative ecological initiatives.

Recently His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai had announced that “areas dedicated to economic and recreational activities will double, our public beach areas will increase by 400 per cent over the next 20 years and 60 per cent of Dubai’s area will be nature reserves.”

Mangroves which are estimated to cover over 150 square kilometres of the country’s coastline is part of a futuristic “people-centric” plan to transform Dubai into the world’s best city to live and work.

UAE’s continued efforts to increase green covers, limiting the consequences of climate change and promoting sustainable development at the local and global levels will help reinforce the UAE’s and Dubai’s competitiveness as a global destination by providing a wide diversity of lifestyle and investment opportunities for citizens, residents and visitors over the next 20 years.

Al Suweidi says, “it will provide a habitat and a recreation space for humans. Besides, the aim of the Dubai Mangrove Forest is to help balance out Dubai’s cosmopolitan impact in agreement with Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan.”

Omar Channawi, CEO of P&G Middle East, East & West Africa and General Export Markets added, “We are very thankful for the support of Major Ali, EMEG and EcoMatcher and are very proud of being able to launch this initiative together. Regionally, this campaign is focused on helping bring nature back to life, and we felt it particularly significant for the regeneration to take place in the desert. The move aligns with Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan’s mission to double green areas to provide a healthy environment for residents and visitors.”

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