Old native trees which have historical and cultural importance to the emirate will soon be coded and electronically identified following the launch of EAD’s latest numbering programme. The social enterprise has been promoting the protection of the UAE’s national tree for more than 10 years through the Give a Ghaf Campaign and many of the trees they have planted may benefit from this programme.
The ambitious project, which will be implemented for the first time in the UAE and the region, aims to enhance the quality of data on local trees such as Ghaf and Samar by providing them with unique identity numbers and classifying them according to the tree type. All other information about the trees such as health conditions and exposure to threats will also be electronically encoded and linked to geographical databases.
Her Excellency, Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD, said: “This project aims to tag old Ghaf and Samar trees of important environmental and heritage values. EAD has begun to implement the programme by identifying the targeted tree species using satellite and aerial images, taking coordinates for each tree and storing them within the geographical databases of the Agency, followed by the actual numbering of the historical trees.”
Dr. Al Dhaheri explained that the first phase of the project will start at Jebel Hafeet National Park in Al Ain city with 1,500 Samar trees while an additional 1,500 Ghaf trees across Abu Dhabi will be tagged by the agency by the end of 2021. She added that these efforts will help protect the trees from illegal activities as well as contribute to scientific data gathering to help assess the trees’ resilience in combating desertification and mitigating climate change.
Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and Managing Director of Goumbook, remarked: “We are delighted at the latest initiative launched by the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi which will further enhance the protection of Ghaf trees and other native trees in the UAE. This innovative programme inspires to do more and contribute to the conservation efforts in the country. We hope these kinds of programmes will continue and gain more support from both the public and private sectors.”
Ghaf and Samar trees according to EAD are two species that were classified among the threatened plant species in the emirate. The agency has recorded around 100,000 wild trees including their association to natural habitats, soil salinity, and groundwater, as well as their availability within Abu Dhabi’s natural reserves network.
The agency further highlighted that Ghaf and Samar trees, among other local trees, are protected under Federal Law No. 24 of 1999, which stipulates that these trees should not be felled, and if must be removed, should be transported and replanted. It identified some of the threats to these plant species such as habitat loss and degradation, urban development, collection of wood for camping fuel, overgrazing, and climate change.