The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, is collaborating with the private sector to implement a comprehensive programme aimed at rehabilitating the UAE’s marine ecosystems.
The initiative is part of the ministry’s continued efforts to implement creative, feasible, and sustainable solutions to address the challenges facing the marine environment and support the development of the country’s blue economy.
The scheme involves growing corals and mangroves in coastal areas, as well as building artificial habitats, such as manmade caves, in the UAE waters. During H1 2020, the programme witnessed significant developments on several levels.
In partnership with Fujairah Municipality, the Municipality of Dibba Al-Fujairah, and the Fujairah Adventure Centre, MoCCAE established the Fujairah Coral Reef Gardens, the largest project of its kind in the country, in May 2019. The venture aims to cultivate 1.5 million corals over five years across an area of more than 300,000 square meters to conserve marine biodiversity and create a new local tourist attraction.
Coastal barriers and natural rocks provide an ideal environment for the formation of coral reefs. Building on this knowledge, the MoCCAE has launched a coral cultivation project using an innovative cutting technique called micro-fragmentation. The first stage involved planting 500 pieces of coral on natural rocks off the coast of Umm Al Qaiwain in depths ranging from five to 15 meters.
The ministry’s expert teams are also working to cultivate approximately 9,200 pieces of coral across 613 square meters off the coast of Kalba. The project is on track to achieve the desired goal.
These efforts support the National Climate Change Adaptation Programme, as climate change puts considerable pressure on coral reefs, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, noted.
Mangrove forests form an integral part of coastal ecosystems. They play an effective role in reducing carbon emissions, contribute to mitigating the impact of natural disasters, and protect coastal areas from erosion caused by waves, marine currents, and human activity, especially construction. Besides, they enhance fisheries sustainability by providing an ideal breeding environment for a wide variety of fish species.
Most of the mangroves in the UAE are healthy and dense. At present, the total mangrove forest area in the country spans around 183 square kilometres, compared to 136.16 square kilometres in 2013.
To cultivate mangroves for use to rehabilitate degraded habitats as well as to plant new mangrove forests in coastal areas, the MoCCAE has set up a mangrove nursery. As of 2019, the ministry planted 100,000 mangrove seeds across 1.2 million square metres that have produced more than 34,000 seedlings.
The MoCCAE runs a joint programme with several private sector entities to build artificial habitats, including environment-friendly manmade caves, in coastal areas. Around 3,200 artificial caves have been installed so far in various locations of the country. The project is on track for completion in 2020.