ABU DHABI – In the face of heat, urbanization and dust in the United Arab Emirates, the calm, muddy waterways of mangroves along the coast of the Gulf state are being restored and planted in response to climate change.
Tropical mangroves are complex ecosystems that grow around mangroves, which thrive in hot, muddy and saline inhospitable environments. They protect coastal communities from storms and floods, are home to a variety of threatened species, and can moderate climate change by trapping carbon in the atmosphere.
“What makes mangroves like Avicennia Marina in Abu Dhabi special is that they are extremely resilient to harsh conditions, they can withstand very high salinity and extreme heat,” says environmental scientist Hamad al-Jailani . Agent in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
“This is very important in the context of climate change, as temperatures around the world are going to increase or become less stable,” he said in Abu Dhabi’s protected mangroves, nearly 40 percent of which are planted instead of natural.
The UAE, which will host the COP28 climate summit in December, has been planting mangroves since its founding in the 1970s and plans to plant 100 million more by 2030, on top of the existing 60 million trees in 183 square kilometers (70 square miles). forest. – The Ministry of Climate says it can capture 43,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, in 2020 the number of mangroves in the world has decreased by 3.4% since 1996, but has stabilized in recent years.
In Khor Kalba on the UAE’s east coast, a sign tells visitors that the mangroves they are in are more than 300 years old and part of the fight against climate change.
“The species diversity is remarkable,” says Khor Kalba conservation scientist Brendan Whittington-Jones.
He said the forest was once open to the public, filled with cars and camels, but has since closed.
“It enables the system to recover to a considerable extent,” he said.
Older mangroves store more carbon, and the UN says planted mangrove restoration projects may have low success rates.
Whittington-Jones said the focus should be on the survival of the mangroves, not the number of plantings.
“We do see that only a small fraction of areas have the right salinity, temperature or hydrological conditions for mangroves to persist,” he said.