Environment of UAE

Environment of UAE Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

To a casual observer, the environment of the UAE may seem so forbidding that there is little to study and less to conserve. The reverse, however, is the case. Precisely because of its forbidding environment, great care must be taken to preserve it, for on such terrain as this life itself is very delicately balanced.

In the past few years, knowledge of the UAE's environment and of its natural history has grown by leaps and bounds. Both scientists and dedicated amateurs have studied the country's flowers, animals, birds and the very land itself, from desert to mountain valley, from gravel plains to coastal beaches and inlets.

Much of the vegetation of the UAE originated in Africa millions of years ago before the formation of the Red Sea. The various kinds of plants have managed to survive despite the harsh climate -- though of course they have adapted over the years.

Over the centuries, they developed new techniques in order to conserve water and stay alive. In some, the annual life cycle has been condensed into a few weeks. After a slight rain they rush to complete the transformation from seeds to flowering to the casting of seeds for another season before the soil once again grows dry.

Flowers are often small but they bloom in profusion for a short time, adding a welcome splash of colour to the monochromatic desert landscape.

Along the coast of the UAE stands of mangrove provide breeding places for fish and birds. In the Arabian Gulf, the wood was used for the building of both houses and boats.

In the UAE, unlike in many other countries, the mangrove forests are increasing in size due to an extensive programme of planting and cultivation and to the careful monitoring of marine pollution and coastal development. One large stand of mangroves adjacent to the island of Abu Dhabi has been declared a nature reserve and can no longer be visited except for scientific study.

With the help of the Al Ain-based Emirates University, areas of the desert have been fenced to protect vegetation from being grazed by livestock. At the same time, this will increase awareness and understanding of the country's vegetation and of the effect of man and his animals on the environment.

Almost as soon as the oil revenues began to pour into the UAE, the government began a programme of afforestation and planting of gardens and parks. Always an oasis, the city of Al Ain, for example, now has greenery covering over a hundred square kilometres.

Abu Dhabi itself is so well endowed with parks and gardens that it has earned the name "Garden City of the Gulf". This programme is slowly changing the face of the country and also providing new habitats for plants, animals and birds.

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