Dubai: Dubai Municipality’s Environment Department organised a mangrove tree-planting event at Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary on Monday to mark World Environment Day.
A total of 2,000 mangroves were planted, enhancing existing mangrove forest cover.
Members of the public were invited to bring their families to volunteer and join the department in giving back to nature.
“Given the theme for World Environment Day this year — Connecting people to nature — this activity was a fitting and rewarding volunteering opportunity,” said Alya Al Harmoudi, director of Environment Department at Dubai Municipality. “During this year’s Car Free Day initiative, Dubai Municipality had announced that it would plant a number of mangroves that would absorb the amount of carbon dioxide that would have been emitted by the number of cars that were not driven on that day,” she said.
“As the Year of Giving is a priority for Dubai Municipality, we wanted to link our activities during World Environment Day with that. We believe it aligns with our own values and beliefs and we strive to pioneer initiatives, support projects and create opportunities all in the name of the Year of Giving. There are many ways to give, including giving to nature and to the community and we want to encourage people to join us in this giving by providing opportunities for them to do so,” said Al Harmoudi.
Tasnim Al Falasi, head of the Environment Awareness Section, said that the mangroves are a very important species as it provides important habitats and feeding grounds for visiting and migratory birds.
“Mangrove roots also bind sand and prevent the erosion of our coasts from wave activity. Mangrove forests absorb five times more carbon dioxide from the air than other tree species and so help us improve our air quality,” she said.
“On May 26, Dubai Municipality released 40 rehabilitated rescued sea turtles at the Jebel Ali Marine Reserve. These were the critically endangered Hawksbill turtles, a species that was hunted to near extinction for its beautiful shell and they were also a victim of boat injuries and by-catch from fishing,” said Al Falasi.
“When injured turtles are found on the beach, the public are asked to take them to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, where they are nursed back to health before being released at the sanctuary,” she said.
“Following this, on June 5, 70 Hawksbill hatchlings emerged from their nests to the delight of those volunteers who arrived to plant their mangrove trees. These nests had been relocated to a protected nursery at Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary to prevent predation from foxes and inundation from the sea. In some cases, turtles, particular first-time nesters, will lay their eggs too close to the high-tide line, so when the tide rises too high, the nest becomes flooded and the eggs perish. Also, left unprotected, nests often become the victim of predation by foxes and other such scavengers,” said Al Falasi.
“The community members were invited to volunteer for this worthwhile conservation effort and aid these freshly hatched turtles on their journey to the sea,” she said.
Al Falasi said that Dubai Municipality hopes these initiatives will inspire the community to become further involved in conservation and species protection programmes, building a strong and dedicated volunteering community.