Dubai: Despite uncertainty about whether the Abu Dhabi Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) will open hotels in the capital's zero-carbon Masdar City, the group is already working towards establishing low-environmental-impact measures for their projects.
One of them is combating the destruction of the indigenous mangroves, one of the most sustainable species in the UAE, in the capital. "These habitats are abundant in Abu Dhabi, but declining rapidly due to coastal development, climate change, and unsustainable exploitation of resources," Nasser Al Shaiba, TDIC's Director of Environmental Affairs told Gulf News in a telephone interview.
The TDIC mangrove enhancement scheme aims to protect and enhance the mangrove habitats in its project and has a number of inter-tidal mangrove nurseries.
The most significant of these is on Saadiyat Island with over 750,000 seedlings planted.
A mangrove management and monitoring programme is being implemented to gain a better understanding of the characteristics and sensitivities of this unique habitat.
"Being environmentally focused lies within our DNA," Al Shaiba said.
"Culture and environment form two major pillars of Abu Dhabi's vision and 2030 plan, and as TDIC is a government body fully owned by the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) we follow a mandate to develop sustainable projects," he said.
According to Al Shaiba, TDIC implements a number of strict environmental guidelines to ensure that all of the development projects the company undertakes include major sustainability elements which make it sympathetic to the environment.
Several key strategies have been adopted to ensure the TDIC project minimises its carbon footprint; reduces consumption of non-renewable resources and contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainability guidelines used contain design requirements and elements which are in line with TDIC's goal for sustainable development.
They cover marine and wildlife, green building guidelines, indigenous plant conservation and renewable energy.
TDIC has opened two hotels in the western region on Sir Bani Yas Island, where each guest plants a mangrove, and more recently near Liwa. Qasr Al Sarab resort is adjacent to a 9,000 square kilometre protected wildlife reserve managed by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency.
The reserve will be home to several thousand free-roaming indigenous Arabian animals, including the Arabian Oryx, Mountain Gazelle and Sand Gazelle.
Many of the animals that have been released into the reserve were bred on Abu Dhabi's Sir Bani Yas Island, a large breeding and conservation reserve initiative designed to protect some of the most endangered species on the Arabian Peninsula.
While building Qasr Al Sarab Desert resort, contractors had to comply with the CEMP that includes environment controls for the protection and management of air quality, terrestrial ecology, health and safety.
Once the project was operational and open to the public, TDIC issued an Omep (Operational Environmental Management Plan) which was developed with EAD.
Water re-cycling systems reduce daily demand by 45 per cent.