Abu Dhabi ecological body highlights key milestones - GulfToday

Abu Dhabi ecological body highlights key milestones

Environment-UAE

Keeping with Sheikh Zayed’s vision of becoming a global voice in the environmental discourse, EAD continues to find synergies with leading international entities.

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) released its Annual Report for 2018 that includes its major achievements and challenges across its core mandate areas over the past year, in its efforts to protect and enhance air quality, groundwater, marine water quality, soil and biodiversity in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In his foreword to the report, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD, writes, “As we look to the future, we are committed to drawing inspiration from Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and to achieving the vision of the Abu Dhabi Government.

We will continue our efforts to improve air quality, protect our natural resources, and enhance our biodiversity. We will also focus on stepping up environmental awareness in society to make a difference through adopting a more sustainable lifestyle. In doing so, we are confident that we will shape a better environment not just for our generation, but also for the generations that come after us.”

The completion of the UAE Sustainable Fisheries Programme – in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) – marked a major milestone in 2018. It has helped increase the UAE’s understanding of its severely overexploited fish stocks and helped identify the management measures required to support the recovery of the fisheries by 2030. The programme included the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey, which revealed that indicator species such as Hamour (Epinephelus coioides), Shaari (Lethrinus nebulosus) and Farsh (Diagramma pictum) are severely overexploited due to being fished at three to five times their sustainable limit. Other outcomes included targeted policies, research and monitoring plans and enhanced enforcement.

With a key focus on the conservation of Abu Dhabi’s groundwater resources, the Agency completed the emirate’s first Groundwater Wells Inventory in 2018, which has resulted in a comprehensive record of over 118,000 wells that has been documented in a first-of-its-kind Groundwater Atlas. In addition, EAD, in partnership with the then-called Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, launched the Liwa Strategic Water Reserve, which is considered a global benchmark for water management in desert regions and could completely redefine international standards for recharge and recovery projects as the largest artificial reservoir project in the world.

As part of EAD’s holistic and integrated approach to soil protection, the Agency launched a soil contamination monitoring programme of 170 sites in Abu Dhabi whose results, to be revealed later this year, will be the basis of future soil management plans and regulations. EAD also conducted a soil salinity survey of 4,000 farms in the emirate, which found that over 33.3 per cent, 25.63 per cent and 15.3 per cent of the farm area in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra respectively has been poorly managed, which may lead to a decrease in the crop yield.

In 2018, EAD announced the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network that now comprises 19 terrestrial and marine areas. EAD’s management of these areas also attracted international recognition. Al Wathba Wetland Reserve became the first site in the region to get listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. Additionally, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD), EAD worked to get the Abu Dhabi Sabkha added to the tentative list of World Heritage Sites within the framework of the World Heritage Convention – a major step towards its inclusion in the World Heritage List. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital also received the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Award for the sixth consecutive year in 2018.

Highlighting the Agency’s role in advancing the global sustainability agenda in 2018, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD, said: “Keeping with Sheikh Zayed’s vision of becoming a global voice in the environmental discourse, EAD continued to find synergies with leading international entities throughout 2018.