Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi will set up the Plant Genetic Resources Centre that aims to document the genetic resources of UAE’s bio-diverse plant species, and studying and conserving them.

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has started preparations to establish the centre following the approval of the agency’s board of directors, an EAD press release said on Monday. Recent studies conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Water in collaboration with EAD, estimated the number of plant species scattered across the UAE at 755 belonging to 81 different families. About 401 species belonging to 255 different genus of 62 plant families found in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The project is the first of its kind in the region aiming to utilise and restore the botanical heritage of the UAE and help re-acquaint people with the beauty of plants that are natural to arid climates and their habitats.

EAD is implementing the project in collaboration with the UAE University (UAEU), the Ministry of Environment and Water, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA), the Environment and Protected Areas Authority - Sharjah (EPPA), the International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), and the Department of Municipal Affairs.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD Secretary General, emphasised the importance of this national project focusing on preserving the plant species across the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. This will position the UAE as a global leader in environmental conservation and sustainable development. “It also enhances rehabilitation programmes and supports reintroduction programmes of endangered species,” she said.

Al Mubarak highlighted that the UAE’s flora richness and diversity are considered as one of the key elements of national heritage and identity. Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Daheri, Executive Director - Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at the EAD said: “Some of the plant species in the UAE are considered as natural resources for some growing crops in different parts of the world, which increases their importance on a global scale. We need to conserve these native plant species and use them sustainably through the establishment of the “Gene Bank” for plants genetic resources. In the long run, the project will also include direct and indirect economic returns,” she said.