Wasit Wetland
Wasit Wetland has been developed as a destination for those who want to learn about wildlife in Sharjah and UAE. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The Ramsar Convention has recognised Wasit Nature Reserve as a ‘Wetland of International Importance’, it was announced on Saturday.

According to Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), the nature reserve established in 2007 , covers an area of approximately 4.5 square kilometres. The reserve is the third protected area in Sharjah to be listed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands after Mangroves Protected Area in Kalba City and Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area.

“We are very pleased that the Ramsar Convention has listed Wasit Nature Reserve as a wetland of international importance due to EPAA’s efforts, agenda and strategy,” said Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, EPAA chairperson.

Al Suwaidi explained that in October 2018, the EPAA participated in the 13th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. The theme of the meeting — ‘Strategy for Monitoring Coastal Waterbird Populations and their Habitats on the Arabian Peninsula’ — aims to contribute to the conservation of coastal waterbird populations and habitats in the Arabian Peninsula by bridging knowledge gaps related to the status of critical coastal wetlands in the region and providing population and trend estimates. The implementation of the monitoring strategy will also help to improve the management of the nation’s Protected Areas and the sustainable management of coastal zones throughout the region. The strategy may also help with the identification of wetlands that could potentially be listed under the Ramsar Convention.

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Wasit Nature Reserve is the third Protected Area in Sharjah to be listed by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands after Mangroves Protected Area in Kalba City and Sir Bu Nair Island Protected Area. Image Credit: Supplied

Work on Wasit Wetland started in 2005 and, in 2013, EPAA developed the Nature Reserve as a destination for people who want to learn about wildlife in Sharjah and the UAE. The Nature Reserve is ecologically diverse with coastal sand dunes and salt flats, linking ponds and a large, open lake. One of the most distinctive environmental and tourist destinations in the UAE, Wasit Wetland Reserve is surrounded by trees that help to clean the air, increase the oxygen level and reduce global warming. The beautiful, diverse landscape is home to many species of migratory and rare birds and a variety of small mammals, insects and reptiles. Some species here have been recorded in the UAE for the first time.

In 2015, the 1,500 square metre Wasit Wetland Centre was established in the heart of the Nature Reserve. In November of the same year, the Centre began to welcome visitors, researchers, nature lovers and people who want to identify the different species, including birds, wildlife, also rare and endangered species. The centre aims to protect the natural environment in certain areas in Sharjah, conserve natural resources and contribute to the development of eco-tourism. An important destination for learning, the Centre provides researchers and visitors with world-class facilities and services. They can use special binoculars to identify different types of rare birds and listen to the birds in the Nature Reserve using cutting-edge technology.