Dubai: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has celebrated the third Gulf Wildlife Day under the theme ‘Towards a Sustainable Natural Life’ with the aim of enhancing cooperation in the field of wildlife conservation among countries of the GCC region.
Every year on December 30, environmental authorities across the region observe the day through organising a variety of activities to raise awareness about wildlife conservation.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said, “Through the ministry and other relevant authorities, the UAE plays a key role in wildlife conservation. Our country comprises a range of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Our government works relentlessly to preserve its rich biodiversity through adopting legislation and initiatives designed to achieve the goals of the National Biodiversity Strategy by 2021.”
He added, “In response to the directives of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we launched our Wildlife Sustainability Programme. Within its framework, we are working on developing and implementing an integrated package of policies, procedures and research activities concerning the conservation of native species, as well as regulations of trade in flora and fauna in line with international environmental conventions.”
Expanding on the specifics of the programme, Dr Al Zeyoudi said, “Among the goals of the programme are identifying invasive species and implementing mechanisms to control their spread as well as prevent their further imports. To date, we have initiated several significant steps, such as the National Red List of Threatened Species Project and the National Invasive Species Project.”
He added, “The ministry is coordinating with relevant local authorities to increase the number of natural protected areas in the UAE with the aim of achieving sustainability of threatened species and conserving important natural habitats. Protected areas contribute to maintaining environmental balance, safeguarding genetic resources, as well as restoring degraded ecosystems and rehabilitating species at risk of extinction.”
The UAE already has several species rehabilitation initiatives in place, most notably breeding programmes for the houbara bustard, Arabian oryx, Arabian leopard and various birds of prey, such as the saker and peregrine falcons.