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Abu Dhabi: EAD expands its native tree-tagging programme

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced the expansion of its native tree-tagging programme to encompass all naturally occurring native trees in Abu Dhabi's wild habitats and natural reserves

Abu Dhabi: EAD expands its native tree-tagging programme

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ABU DHABI: The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced the expansion of its native tree-tagging programme to encompass all naturally occurring native trees in Abu Dhabi's wild habitats and natural reserves. This initiative is a collaborative effort with the agency's strategic partners aimed at bolstering sustainability, safeguarding Abu Dhabi's natural heritage, and reinforcing the emirate's position as a leader in environmental endeavours. The Agency aims to tag 100,000 native trees as part of the programme, encompassing Ghaf, Samar, and Sidr trees, all of which naturally thrive in wild habitats and protected areas.

In collaboration with its strategic partners, EAD has formulated the standards for tree tagging activities, which will be executed in diverse regions across the emirate. The programme will be expanded to encompass trees in city parks, urban areas, and along roadsides through the tree-tagging initiative managed by the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT).

Additionally, native trees situated in agricultural zones and tourist sites will be included in the programme, with collaboration and coordination involving the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) and the Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT).

Furthermore, the programme entails collecting data on the status of trees, aligning with standards compatible with the databases of the Statistics Center - Abu Dhabi (SCAD). Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, stated, "The Agency has developed this programme in alignment with the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who emphasises the significance of fostering sustainability and safeguarding the country's environmental and natural systems.

This commitment is evident through the extension of the 'Year of Sustainability' initiative into 2024, reflecting the intention to build upon the successes of the previous year. This extension underscores the country's dedication to realising a prosperous and sustainable future for all." Dr Al Dhaheri also emphasised that the programme is, comparatively, among the most comprehensive initiatives globally. The Agency aims to tag and number all native trees growing in wild areas and natural reserves within the emirate's Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network.

This initiative, in collaboration with strategic partners, is poised to boost the chances of success, ensuring a comprehensive and integrated approach by applying unified standards in all areas where local trees thrive. This aligns with existing cooperation frameworks with partners and strengthens the overall effectiveness of the programme. "The expansion of the programme underscores EAD's dedication to enhancing the preservation of our local native trees, esteemed as one of Abu Dhabi's abundant natural treasures," stated Ahmed Al Hashemi, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD. "Within the initial three months since the programme's initiation in November 2023, EAD successfully tagged over 17,000 trees." Native trees in Abu Dhabi are confronted with multiple challenges.

Apart from the adversities induced by climate change, leading to a significant decline in rainfall across diverse habitats of the emirate, the tree cover encounters additional pressures stemming from unlawful encroachments. These include unauthorised firewood collection and unregulated overgrazing. These activities have a detrimental impact on the natural regeneration of native tree species," he added.

According to Al Hashemi, EAD has disseminated community awareness messages regarding violations and the associated administrative fines as stipulated in EAD's Board Resolution No. (2) of 2021, addressing infringements on native trees both within and outside natural reserves.

These messages have also been incorporated into identification tree tags/signs, presented in Arabic, English, and Urdu, affixed to tree trunks. This measure is expected to bolster the agency's efforts to enforce approved environmental laws and legislation. The programme will also contribute to enhancing data quality and updating the knowledge repository of relevant authorities concerning the status of native trees.

It will achieve this by gathering comprehensive information specifically designed for utilisation in specialised data collection and geographic linking applications. These applications are designed to facilitate the direct transfer of field data to the Environmental Agency - Abu Dhabi's (EAD) environmental database, enabling real-time reporting on the programme's advancements. Furthermore, the Agency will collaborate with its partners to execute the electronic coding of native trees situated in forests and along highway belts, totalling over 20 million trees.

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