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This ghaf tree, located in Zabeel 1, Dubai, is believed to be about 100 years old. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: As many as 10,000 Ghaf trees have been numbered and protected by law under a Dubai Municipality project to preserve the UAE’s national tree. Harming these trees could cost one dearly as endangering them can attract fines from Dh1,000 and can go up to Dh50,000 depending upon the size and age of the tree and the extent of damage.

On Wednesday, Dubai Municipality announced that it had completed its Al Ghaf tree-numbering project in 177 areas since the launch of the initiative in 2017. The first phase of the project targeted a total of 10,000 perennial trees in the urban areas. It comes under a wider project to create a digital record of naturally-grown perennial local trees in the urban areas of Dubai. A metal plaque is to be placed on these 24,000 trees — almost half of which are more than 50-years-old.

The number plate with a code is engraved on the plaque that carries the message, ‘This tree is protected by law — it is not allowed to damage, cut or relocate this tree without permission from the Public Parks and Horticulture Department’. The first plaque was fixed on a 100-year-old ghaf tree near a mosque in Zabeel 1 area.

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During the launch of the project, the civic body had said that GPS-enabled electronic chips would be placed on these trees to record their history and monitor them in the second phase of the project, which will also see officials getting alerts when these trees are harmed or relocated.

Once the numbering and placing of plaques and chips on the trees in the urban areas are complete, the project will expand to the protected trees in the wild and deserts, the municipality had said.