Abu Dhabi: As part of its commitment to encourage biodiversity conservation strategies and plans, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC) is supporting the regional Marine Turtle Conservation project launched by the Emirates Wildlife Society in Association with WWF (EWS-WWF).

UPC's support of EWS-WWF's Marine Turtle Conservation Project will witness the organisation adopting an endangered hawksbill turtle which will be tagged with a satellite transmitter.

The UPC adopted turtle will be named "Estidama", the sustainability programme managed by the UPC, thereby aligning this initiative with the environment sustainability pillar of the Estidama programme.

"Preserving the Emirates' rich biodiversity is a key component of the Vision 2030 sustainable development process and our partnership with EWS-WWF reflects our commitment towards implementing effective biodiversity conservation strategies and plans for Abu Dhabi," said Falah Al Ahbabi, UPC General Manager.

The project has been launched by EWS-WWF to promote the conservation of marine turtles in the Middle East that are critically endangered, mostly through habitat loss or indirect capture in fisheries and are in dire need of conservation action at a national and regional level.

Through satellite tracking of 75 post nesting Hawksbill turtles, the project aims to map and identify key habitats and feeding grounds. This research will in turn be used to guide the design of comprehensive and adapted conservation programmes necessary to the survival of this species.

"The Estidama programme promotes the development of policies that enables the integration of environmental concerns into the ongoing implementation of the Vision 2030 development process. Our coastal development guidelines and other waterfront protection initiatives form an integrated system that is essential for the conservation of the Emirates' biodiverse marine life," Al Ahbabi added.

Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF said: "Over the past 10 years, EWS-WWF has been working with organisations across the UAE to inspire, support and further the understanding of environmental issues. In this spirit, we are extremely happy to work with the UPC to support the protection of Gulf turtles. This sponsorship agreement will allow UPC employees to follow the amazing journey of 'Estidama', their adopted turtle."

"Meanwhile, EWS-WWF researchers will have access to much-needed data to aid in ongoing conservation efforts. We hope that this initiative will encourage other organisations in the UAE to support this and other environmental projects, integrating the environment into the heart of their business and CSR practices," Al Mubarak said.

UPC's support of the Marine Turtle Conservation Project is also aimed at engaging the internal audience at the organisation with the promotion of sustainability practices.

Under the initiative, the UPC employees will be able to monitor the turtles' movement via satellite and follow their amazing journeys.