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National list of endangered species soon to be announced

Will help measures towards conservation at regional and local levels

Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE may soon have a national list of endangered species of plants and animals, Gulf News has learnt.

Having a national list will help protect endangered species better and facilitate effective measures towards conservation at regional and local levels.

The Ministry of Environment and Water, along with municipalities and other departments in various emirates, is working towards coming up with a ‘red list'.

Presently, there is a red list of the UAE's flora and fauna according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the world's oldest and largest global environmental organisation. However, as these species are classified based on their global status worldwide, there is a need to develop a list at a national level.

The Red List data give details on the species that are on the verge of extinction — Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable, Extinct or Extinct in the Wild.

"There is a plan to have a national ‘red list'," Dr Jamal Badani from the Ministry of Environment and Water, said in response to a query at a seminar recently.

Brink of extinction

To preserve the bird species that are on the brink of extinction, a high-tech gene bank needs to be set up in the country, said Dr Badani.

"We should conduct extensive studies and research in this field. Birds that have high environmental importance are valuable treasures we have which can't be regained once lost. Accelerated public awareness drives and a regular update of the Red Data Book with a regional emphasis are other measures we should focus on."

Along with climatic change, birds have been suffering due to irrational and uncontrolled hunting, the use of pesticides and widening desertification.

The UAE has been taking various steps towards the protection and conservation of biodiversity which include increasing protected areas — a basic requirement for conservation — to ten per cent. According to a Ministry of Environment and Water report on wildlife and marine conservation efforts in the UAE, initiatives to enhance the protection of fragile habitats include updating the national strategy for protected areas.