35,000 mangrove trees planted in Abu Dhabi using drones

Over a hectare of coastline was seeded in the first phase of the project


Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 11:38 AM

More than 35,000 mangrove seeds have been planted in the Mirfa lagoon in Abu Dhabi using highly innovative drone planting technology, authorities have announced.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and ENGIE, a global energy company, said on Thursday that the success of this second phase of the "Blue Carbon" Environmental and Social Responsibility project was in partnership with Distant Imagery.

Ahmed Al Hashemi, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, EAD, said, "We are always eager to play an impactful role in tackling climate change in line with the vision of the UAE, which has now become a leader in the field. Moreover, the conservation of plant species is also a priority for us. The Blue Carbon project successfully combines our focus on these priorities and will contribute to achieving the Net Zero 2050 strategic initiative announced by the UAE government."

Al Hashemi added: "After our success in the first phase of the project, we used a more robust and evidence-based approach from lessons learnt. This project is extremely innovative as planting via drones is a relatively new concept, which can greatly help rehabilitate and expand mangroves in Abu Dhabi, especially in remote areas which are difficult to reach using traditional planting methods. We are striving for a success rate of 35 percent, which would be a win for us at EAD in partnership with ENGIE."


Florence Fontani, Vice President Communications and Sustainability, ENGIE Africa, Middle East, and Asia (AMEA), said, "Rehabilitating mangrove ecosystems is an effective way to mitigate the effects of climate change and restore natural habitats and biodiversity. At ENGIE, we are honoured to be involved in such an impactful project that contributes to the UAE's carbon-neutral goals and promotes sustainable development for a greener future for generations to come."

The Mangrove Rehabilitation project, initiated in 2020, was a successful pilot project where approximately a hectare of coastline was planted with mangrove seed balls via specialized engineered drone rigging. The mangrove seeds were then monitored monthly for growth over a year.

The second phase involved further refined drone rigging and planting germinated mangrove seeds and seed balls to scale up the mangroves. The use of drones was crucial during each step of the project. They assisted in evaluating the above-ground environmental conditions, spatial arrangements, and ability to geo-map the site. Drones provide an efficient and fast method for dropping seeds at speeds of about 2,000 seeds per load. For the planting, Distant Imagery developed three different seed-dropping mechanisms based on soil, elevation, and tidal characteristics, with the objective to enhance success rate.

EAD will continue to support the project by actively monitoring the health of the mangroves.

ENGIE aims to enable governments and businesses to accelerate the transition toward a carbon-neutral economy and supports long-term sustainable solutions.

Mangrove trees can play vital role in mitigating effects of climate change

Meanwhile, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality has stressed the importance of preserving mangrove trees to protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change.

In its recent virtual workshop entitled "Together to protect our future generations - mangroves" as part of the "My Capital" event, in cooperation with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, officials said it was crucial for the public to preserve mangrove trees to protect the environment and fighting the effects of climate change.

During the workshop, an expert from the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi said there was need to preserve mangrove trees in order to achieve environmental sustainability and preserve natural resources, stressing that it is "our national duty towards the country and towards our future generations to provide them with a sincere environmental vision on the importance of maintaining ecological balance."

He also highlighted the benefits of mangrove trees in mitigating the effects of climate change. They play an effective role in reducing carbon emissions, reducing the effects of marine natural disasters, and protecting coasts from erosion processes caused by waves and sea currents.

"Mangrove trees are one of the most beneficial species to humans, as they act as a natural windbreaker, contribute to protection from tidal storms and purify the surrounding water, and are effective in capturing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, in addition to the mangrove forests providing a safe shelter for hundreds of birds. and marine species, which enhance biodiversity and help increase fish stocks," said the expert.

On Wednesday, Jubail Island Investment Company announced that one million mangrove trees will be planted on Jubail Island within the next 10 years.

The latest announcement is in addition to 350,000 new seedlings planted on the island in support of the UAE's ambition to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030. Also, the company has partnered with Etihad Airways to plant another 182,000 mangrove trees in the next five years on the island.


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