environment

Go Wild Dubai drive urges residents to explore and protect wildlife

Municipality to host events promoting protected areas in emirate

Staff Report
17:50 October 12, 2017
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Dubai: Dubai Municipality is embarking on a two-week campaign to bring together communities to raise awareness on emirate’s wildlife and the beauty of its natural world.

A series of events are planned for the campaign, themed ‘Go Wild Dubai’, which is being organised from October 15 to 31, focusing on getting the community outdoors to discover Dubai’s protected areas, the civic body said in a press release on Thursday.

Alya Al Harmoudi, director of the Environment Department, said Dubai’s Protected Areas are cherished by the municipality and represent the emirate’s prioritisation of protecting nature.

“We want all Dubai residents to know about their city’s natural world and to appreciate it,” she added.

“If we do not safeguard the future of Dubai’s natural environments, it is us who will have to answer to our children and our grandchildren. Dubai has a very rich and unique natural world, which is home to a variety of protected areas that boast impressive biodiversity. It’s important that visitors and residents understand, appreciate and care for these areas, as well as all ecosystems in Dubai,” added Al Harmoudi.

“Dubai has eight protected areas that were established to protect vulnerable and important species in their natural habitat. Some species include ghaf trees, Arabian leopards, Hawksbill Turtles, Houbara Bustard and many more. These protected areas span various ecosystems, such as coastal, marine, desert and wetland and feature a large variety of flora and fauna,” she pointed out.

Aisha Al Murr Al Muhairi, head of Natural Resources and Conservation Section, said the protected areas in Dubai cover 16.5 per cent of the total area of the emirate and they have various ecosystems — desert, marine, coastal and mountain habitats — which are rich with multiple species of plants, animals, fish and birds.

“These species have international importance due to pressures they are facing in different countries, causing them to become threatened with extinction.

“Our protected areas were established to protect Dubai’s main threatened species which inhabit them, which include Arabian Tahr, Hawksbill Turtle and Houbara and we should put high priority into conserving these species for us and for generations to come,” she added.

Tasnim Al Falasi, head of Environment Awareness Section, said: “We are trying to encourage the public to understand the importance of our nature. For example, the mangrove tree is a key species, as it provides important habitat and feeding ground for visiting and migratory birds. Mangrove roots also bind sand and prevent the erosion of our coasts from wave activities.”

The Go Wild Dubai initiative was established to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as designated by the United Nations 70th General Assembly.

In the context of the universal 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017 aims to support a change in policies, business practices and consumer behaviour towards a more sustainable tourism sector and contribute to the SDGs.

Dubai’s eight protected areas were established with the purpose of conserving and protecting the habitats and wildlife while encouraging and promoting sustainable tourism. The Go Wild Dubai initiative activities aim to showcase and inform people about the protected areas and encourage them to visit these areas.

Go Wild Dubai events

The Go Wild Dubai events will include a series of activities and workshops at Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary from October 15 to 31, from 9am to 6pm daily. The calendar focuses on school students throughout the week and the general public on Fridays. The activities focus on the learning and understanding of our wildlife.

Wildlife photography: The planned activities include wildlife photography workshops, where professional wildlife photographers will lead groups around the area, spotting wildlife and giving them tips on how best to capture an image of them, while teaching them about the animals and how not to disturb them.

Bird watching: Bird watching workshops will take place in the bird watching hides, where groups can use binoculars to spot different species, while specialists from Dubai Municipality will explain the variety of species and things to look out for when bird watching.

Bird call: After the group has become familiar with some of Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary’s bird residents, they will be invited to a bird call workshop, where they can learn and recognise various bird calls and try to imitate them.

In addition to that, there will be a guided tour of the Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary, a nature quiz, in which groups will be invited to challenge their knowledge of Dubai’s natural world and the participants can win prizes.

There will also be a host of other activities for children and families to enjoy. The initiative marks the start of an ongoing wider plan to ensure Dubai’s protected areas are understood, visited and appreciated, the press release said.

Dubai Municipality said it expects the initiative to inspire the community to become further involved in conservation and species protection programmes, and in building a strong and dedicated volunteering community that protects Dubai’s wildlife.