Approximately 60,000 square metres of mangrove habitat escaped destruction when inspectors from the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) made a recent, routine visit to Reem Island and stopped a developer who had been planning to widen the islandís northern channel by 75 metres without clearance from the EAD, harming a tree species that is critical to maintaining the emirateís marine ecosystem.
“Before a company can begin developing or dredging the site of its development, it is required to apply for an environmental permit from EAD,” said Faisal Al Hammadi, Deputy Executive Director of the EAD’s environment quality sector.
“The incident was discovered when EAD inspectors were making one of their ad hoc site visits. Working efficiently with the developer, the two teams ceased the mangrove removal operation within a matter of hours,” he said. The developer subsequently submitted a mangrove management plan and also provided for damaged areas to be replanted. For its part, the EAD continues to monitor developers after their plans have been approved.
According to Al Hammadi, mangrove habitats are easily disrupted by human activities such as development and boating, yet prove difficult to restore once harmed.
For this reason, the EAD promotes a policy of prevention rather than cure, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD Secretary General, said.
“As Abu Dhabi continues to develop, it is critical that the emirate have a strong and effective environmental regulatory framework,” she said. “This will help us ensure that strategic economic growth provides the desired benefits without damaging Abu Dhabi’s natural heritage and long-term future prospects.”
The EAD, which advises the government on environmental policy, conducts a number of activities ensuring environmental protection, ranging from site inspections and assessments to permit issuance and prosecution of violators.
It is currently involved in the conservation and rehabilitation of seven mangrove sites within the emirate of Abu Dhabi.