A regeneration project to tackle climate change in the UAE, where thousands of mangroves are being planted to protect the country’s vulnerable marine ecosystems, is starting to show incredible promise. And it’s starting to look like the regeneration plan could be another major stride forward in mankind’s quest to battle climate change.
The Fujairah Coral Reef Gardens is an Emirati initiative to drive up eco tourism, while safeguarding vital marine life. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has already planted 100,000 mangrove seeds across 1.2 million square metres, producing more than 34,000 seedlings since 2019. The latest phase of this development in municipalities in Fujairah and Dibba will see a further 1.5 million corals planted in the artificial habitats, which will support species that are currently under threat along the UAE’s coastline.
What are mangroves?
Mangroves are the only subspecies of trees that can grow in saltwater, with somewhere between 50 to 110 species that range in size from between two and 10 meters in height. The underwater habitat their roots provide offer critical nursing environments for juveniles of thousands of fish species, from 1-inch gobies to 10-foot sharks. They are found along the coastlines of 118 tropical and subtropical countries, totalling more than 137,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of Greece.
But what makes mangroves particularly special is their ability to store and absorb carbon. In fact, mangrove plants are up to 10 times more efficient at carbon hoarding than land-based trees. And there are further emission reductions that could occur from the marine wildlife-supporting roots that mangroves grow underwater.
The Fujairah Cultured Coral Reef Gardens
The project was launched last year and continued to develop this year. It involves growing corals and mangroves in coastline areas, with 1.5 million plants expected to be grown over 300,000 square meters in total. It will also involve building caves where fish thrive, with roughly 3,200 caves on course for completion this year.
The first stage involved planting 500 pieces of coral along the UAE coast of Umm Al Quwain at water depths from 5 to 15 meters.
Based on research undertaken by MOCCAE, the project will be home to over 1.5 million colonies of coral species, which will be protected from predators and strong currents that threaten their survival. The project will also provide a massive boost to the UAE’s ecotourism sector, attracting tourists to reservations such as the Jubail Mangrove Park – the first self-contained educational, nature and leisure destination of its kind in Abu Dhabi, which opened in January.
Is this the future?
Mangrove plantations, such as those that are due to populate the UAE’s shoreline can help us in the battle against climate change on two fronts: protecting marine wildlife that’s under threat and reducing carbon emissions from the atmosphere on a massive scale. If the project proves successful, it could create yet another blueprint for inventive strategies to control the climate, which will inevitably play a pivotal role in the story of the survival of our species.
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