Mangroves give services worth millions of dirhams

A hectare offers ecosystem services worth Dh71,1973 a year

20:16 March 14, 2017

Abu Dhabi: Millions of dollars’ worth environmental services provided by mangroves to the UAE people once again highlights the fact that their value goes beyond aesthetic beauty, a study presented on Tuesday said.

A hectare mangrove offers ecosystem services valued at $193,845 (Dh71,1973) a year without including carbon sequestration services, according to the study.

Mangroves offer a natural carbon sequestration process, by which carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere, mitigating the global warming.

Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah have the highest extend of mangroves in the UAE, followed by Abu Dhabi, according to the study presented at Climate Change Symposium. The Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), is organising the three-day symposium in the capital to present the conclusions of the 12 studies that are encompassed in the Local, National, and Regional Climate Change Programme (LNRCCP). The programme was launched in 2013 to establishing a climate change work programme.

Abu Dhabi’s blue carbon ecosystems are calculated to store 41 million tonnes of CO2. This is more than the annual emissions from the sectors of oil and gas (26.4 million tonnes) or water and electricity (30.9 million tonnes).

Coastal ecosystems such as mangroves that store and sequestrate carbon are called blue carbon ecosystems. Corals, seagrass beds, salt marshes, costal sand dunes and oyster beds are the other components of this ecosystem.

The combined value of Abu Dhabi’s blue carbon ecosystems’ services was estimated to exceed Dh 2 billion a year. These services include carbon sequestration and storage, coastline protection, habitat provision and water purification.

The emirate’s costal and marine resources supply $ 684 million worth services to beach users in Abu Dhabi a year. This conservatoire number is based on the assumption that only 4.2 per cent of residents of Abu Dhabi visit the beaches. If the current trend in marine degradation continues, large-scale losses of coastal amenity will be experienced. This will cause 30 per cent to 35 per cent turnover decline for beachfront hotels, says the AGEDI study titled ‘ecosystem services assessment’.

AGEDI actively engaged stakeholders throughout the region for the 12 projects, which are subdivided into five thematic areas. The regional climate change thematic area includes the two studies that formed the backbone of the programme - these are the Regional Atmospheric Modelling and the Arabian Gulf Modelling. Building on that, two studies were carried out under the Environment thematic area: the Terrestrial Biodiversity and the Marine Biodiversity. The water resources thematic area includes three studies: the Regional Water-Energy Nexus, the UAE Water Energy Nexus and the Al Ain Water Resources. The Coastal Vulnerability Index and Sea Level Rise studies were conducted under the coastal zones thematic area. Finally, the last thematic area, socio economic systems, included three studies: the Desalination, the Food Security and the Public Health Co-benefits of Greenhouse Gases (GHG) Mitigation.

All outputs of the programme are freely available on AGEDI’s innovative and interactive online inspector portal www.ccr-group.org/cc-inspectors.