UAE Identifies Nine Globally Significant Key Biodiversity Areas

UAE Identifies Nine Globally Significant Key Biodiversity Areas

The UAE has designated nine key biodiversity areas (KBA) of global importance, highlighting its commitment to sustainability and conservation. Approved by the Key Biodiversity Areas Secretariat, these KBAs protect numerous endangered species.

The announcement, reviewed by President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, coincided with World Environment Day and included discussions with young innovators and environmental leaders on sustainability initiatives.

The nine newly appointed KBAs include:

  • Arabian Oryx Protected Area in Abu Dhabi
  • Marawah Marine Area in Abu Dhabi
  • Al Yasat Marine Area in Abu Dhabi
  • Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai
  • Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
  • Wadi Al-Helo in Sharjah
  • Khor Fakan and Shark Island in Sharjah
  • Wadi Al-Bih in Ras Al Khaimah
  • Siniyah Island and Khor Al Beidah in Umm Al Qaiwain

This achievement highlights the UAE’s global position in identifying practical solutions to enhance biodiversity by implementing nature-based solutions, thus effectively addressing a range of environmental and climatic challenges. It is the result of a collaboration between the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The report highlights the collaboration of UAE authorities and a team of 75 personnel, trained by international experts, to designate nine Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs). Completed last year and adhering to global standards, these sites are now listed on the World Database of Key Biodiversity Areas.

Dr. Amna bint Abdullah Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, said,

“The designation of nine globally significant key biodiversity areas in the UAE is the result of the nation's initiatives during the Year of Sustainability and its commitment to biodiversity conservation and nature protection. The UAE has demonstrated exceptional endeavours in protecting living creatures from extinction, both locally and globally.”

The UAE's identification of key biodiversity areas, combined with national initiatives, positions it as a sustainability leader. Collaborative efforts enhance reserve expansion, addressing climate change and fostering sustainable societies. Conservation projects raise awareness, shape policies, and align with economic goals, improving and rehabilitating natural habitats for current and future generations.

The UAE minister thanked local and international stakeholders for their role in designating nine key biodiversity areas in the UAE. She highlighted that this milestone boosts efforts to enhance conservation and protect rare species, marking a pioneering Emirati initiative in global biodiversity conservation.

Global and Regional Excellence

The nine KBAs have several features that have positioned them among some of the most significant biodiversity sites regionally and globally. Two of these biodiversity sites have been identified for the Arabian Gazelle, the Arabian Sand Gazelle, and the Arabian Oryx. These are the first KBAs for these mammals in the world.

The UAE is home to the largest number of Arabian oryx in the world, after being on the brink of extinction in the 1970s. The Arabian Oryx is found in both Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve in Dubai and the Arabian Oryx Protected Area in Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, two globally significant KBAs have been identified for the Dugong (sea cows). These sites are the first globally significant KBAs for sea cows in the Middle East. The UAE hosts the second-largest gathering of sea cows in the world, found in both Al Yasat Marine and Marawah Marine areas.

Furthermore, three KBAs for three endemic species of Geckos (Asaccus caudivolvulus, Asaccus margaritae and Ptyodactylus Ruusaljibalicus) were identified and these are the first KBAs for Reptiles in the UAE.

Five of these key sites are fully protected, accounting for an average of 98 percent of the KBA area coverage by Protected Areas in the UAE.

The designation of KBAs contributes to raising the mean area that is protected in terrestrial sites important to biodiversity indicator from 51.55 to 98.08 percent, the mean area that is protected in marine sites important to biodiversity indicator from 48.61 to 98.17 percent, and average proportion of key biodiversity areas covered by protected areas, from 37.59 to 98.13 percent.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) operates in over 160 countries with more than 1,400 members, including various organizations. Key biodiversity areas are crucial for protecting species, maintaining ecological balance, and offering natural conservation benefits like air and water purification, soil improvement, and carbon storage, while serving as genetic resources for plants and animals.

News Source: Emirates News Agency

Dark Light