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Monday, March 4, 2024

Mangrove Expansion: Nurturing Environmental Transformation – The Role of UAE Leaders in Promoting Mangrove Expansion during the 1990s

Mangrove Expansio In the early 90s, a humorous saying circulated in Abu Dhabi among environmental research, highlighting the seriousness of mangrove conservation. This anecdote encapsulated the emirate’s profound commitment to protecting mangroves well before environmental concerns gained widespread attention.

Insights from an Australian Researcher

Ronald Loughland, an Australian researcher who arrived in Abu Dhabi in 1993, explored the mangroves along the Arabian coast. He marveled at the rulers’ dedication to preserving these wetland plants, attributing a 50% increase in Abu Dhabi’s mangrove area between 1990 and 2021 to extensive plantation programs.

Leadership’s Role in Conservation Initiatives: Mangrove Expansio

Loughland, now an environmental consultant, claimed to have planted millions of mangroves in the 90s. He credited the rulers, including Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his sons, for initiating Abu Dhabi’s ambitious mangrove conservation project.

Personal Involvement of Sheikh Zayed

Sheikh Zayed’s personal involvement in ecological conservation left a lasting impression on Loughland. The leader’s hands-on approach, often walking among plantation workers, reflected a genuine love for nature. Loughland described Sheikh Zayed as a “Bedouin at heart” who understood the value of trees for shade and sustenance.

Early Recognition of Climate Change

In an era when climate change was not widely understood, Loughland became a believer after witnessing coral bleaching in 1993. Over 90% of coral reefs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai were lost due to severe coral bleaching in 1996 and 1998.

Scientific Contributions and Surveys at EAD: Mangrove Expansion

As a founding member of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) in 1993, Loughland conducted surveys on Abu Dhabi’s flora and fauna. His research, including the analysis of satellite imagery, revealed Abu Dhabi’s unique status of increasing mangrove coverage during a period of global decline.

Perspective from Thesiger: Mangrove Expansion

Loughland had the privilege of spending time with British explorer Wilfred Thesiger, who visited Abu Dhabi in the 90s. Thesiger, invited by Sheikh Zayed, shared insights into environmental changes since the 1940s, highlighting the mutual appreciation for conservation between Thesiger and the UAE’s leaders.

Mangrove Planting Techniques

Loughland’s scientific approaches to mangrove planting included innovative techniques for optimal growth. He contributed to transforming low-value saline coastal areas into thriving mangrove forests.

UAE’s Ambitious Mangrove Project

Commending Abu Dhabi’s plan to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030, Loughland expressed confidence in the emirate’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050. With 44 million trees planted since 2020, the initiative aligns with Abu Dhabi’s dedication to environmental sustainability.

Legacy of Environmental Passion: Mangrove Expansion

Loughland concluded by emphasizing the enduring passion for the environment among Emiratis, a commitment passed down through generations of rulers. The ongoing dedication to nature conservation positions Abu Dhabi as a global leader in environmental stewardship.

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