Wed 29-07-2020 20:45 PM
ABU DHABI, 29th July, 2020 (WAM) -- His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), during the virtual Board of Directors meeting of EAD praised the support provided by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Honorary Chairman of EAD.
He emphasised that their collective assistance and guidance enabled the agency to play its role effectively in protecting the environment and preserving natural resources in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan praised the efforts made by EAD to deal with preventive and precautionary measures to address the impacts of Coronavirus on the environment and biodiversity in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Similarly, His Highness also commended the agency’s continued determination to play an effective role in light of these exceptional heath conditions.
He expressed his praise during the virtual meeting that was attended by Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, UAE's Minister of State for Defence Affairs and EAD's Vice Chairman, Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development, Falah Mohammed Al-Ahbabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al-Mazrouei, Commander-in-Chief of the Abu Dhabi Police, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Managing Director and Ahmed Saqer Al-Suwaidi, CEO of ADNOC Offshore.
The meeting was also attended by Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Court Undersecretary of the Ruler’s Representative in Al-Dhafra region, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD and Dr Jaber Al Jabri, Deputy Secretary General of the agency.
He encouraged the agency and its employees to intensify initiatives and projects that are concerned with the environmental sector within the country, and to follow up on the decisions and legislations issued in this regard to protect biodiversity and maintain the quality of life for a sustainable future.
His Highness said: "We are optimistic about the recorded improvement in fish stocks of some of the major commercially fished species in Abu Dhabi waters. This noticeable rise is attributed to the policies and management measures that have been taken to improve the deteriorating position of the stocks of several fish species that were being depleted. A comprehensive protection plan designed for the recovery of fish stocks and sustainability for future generations has witnessed positive results within just one year of its implementation which will be a vital contribution to the organisation of food security in the country."
His Highness expressed that the UAE has inherited the fishing profession from earlier generations, therefore members of society must continue to cooperate with fishermen and decision makers who are contributing to reducing the impacts of overfishing on the environment. This collaborative assistance has helped achieve a balance between environmental, economic and social goals that will ensure the renewal and recovery of fish stocks. His Highness also expressed his hopes in witnessing a rise in fish stocks during the next report issued by the agency. Concurrently, with the strategic wealth of the emirate, His Highness shared his optimism in continual efforts to commit to implementing existing measures that achieve environmentally sustainable results in the fisheries sector.
Additionally, His Highness emphasised the importance of continuing to implement the ministerial resolution issued in May 2019 by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment which bans the use of gargoor nets in Abu Dhabi to guarantee fisheries' recovery. Due to the policies, procedures and administrative measures the agency has taken, there has been a significant improvement of the status of fish stocks in some of the main commercial fish species in waters across the emirate.
The positive and negative impacts of Covid-19 on the environment were reviewed during the meeting, the most important positive aspect was the blossoming of natural habitats during the stay-at-home period. One of the positive results of the decrease in human activity was the increase in Kentish birds and Black-winged stilts, as well as observations of Mountain Gazelles on Saadiyat Island. While in Jebel Hafit, Arabian Tahr females were spotted on the base of the mountain for the first time, as well as three small owls and flourishing plants.
The stay-at-home period resulted in the discovery of flamingos in new areas around Abu Dhabi, in addition to a recorded annual increase in the breeding of flamingos by 12 per cent. Similarly, there was an increase of 22 per cent in the number of flamingos in the 2020 breeding season where 876 born chicks hatched, in comparison to 2019.
An increase in the activity of nesting sea turtles was also observed on the coast of the mainland of Abu Dhabi as well as a 50 per cent decrease in the rate of dugong mortality, which is the lowest standard rate compared to previous years.
Among the most important positive achievements was the indicator of the good health of biodiversity of wild and marine species, as well as the high index of fish stocks in Abu Dhabi waters. Similarly, there were no cases of fish deaths recorded during the period from February - June 2020.
A significant improvement in air quality, with a noticeable decrease in the concentration of air pollutants and CO2 concentration was also evident. EAD data showed a 50 percent decrease of the average nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in Abu Dhabi, with significant reductions of other transport-related pollutants such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO) which was the result of the significant decrease in traffic and other human activities.
During the meeting, a review of the most important achievements undertaken by the agency during the past period included the birth of the first critically endangered Addax in Chad, from among the group released by the agency at the beginning of this year. The number of falcons that were treated in the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital reached 125,000 falcons, while 65 falcons were released in Kazakhstan under the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme which was created by EAD in 1995.
Since 2017, there has been increase in the area of natural reserves managed by the agency within the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network which has reached 1,930 square kilometers. This amounts to a 16.9 per cent increase in land reserve area, and a 13.9 per cent increase in marine reserve area across the Emirate. One of reserves monitored by the agency, Marwah Marine Biosphere Reserve was recognised on an international level since its listing under the International Alliance of Protected Areas (IAPA). In addition, nine new types of invertebrates were discovered in the emirate's protected areas, and they are now under registration.
The first Al-Sarh tree was discovered by EAD in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and a programme is being implemented to propagate it in the agency’s nursery. The agency also planted 7,000 Umbrella Thorn Acacia seedlings, with 80 per cent of the of this species' rehabilitation project completed.
Similarly, the agency also planted 2 million mangrove seedlings in the emirate over an estimated area of 6.4 million square meters during this year, in addition to preparing the first Ghaf tree map in the world with a total of more than 54 thousand trees being numbered electronically. Also, 55 Dwarf Palms were planted in Jebel Hafit, after only one natural tree was observed in the emirate.
EAD released the third inventory report on Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The launch of the first plan to manage soil salinity of agricultural land in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi was unveiled, after conducting surveys of more than 4,000 farms. The EAD team also achieved more than 1,400 inspection visits to industrial facilities during the last period, and more than 1,800 visits to monitor groundwater.
The Board of Directors agreed upon the most important amendments to the EAD's establishment law to enhance its regulatory powers and exercise its role effectively. Similarly, a new grazing law was established in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that contributes to protecting natural pastures to ensure their stability for future generations.
The first festival of environmental films, "Sidr Festival" in the country, in cooperation with Zayed University was organised. Concurrently, the Indicator Reporting Information System-3 (IRIS-3) was launched in cooperation with the United Nations as a world-first information platform for the state of the environment, in addition to the launch of the first policy of single-use plastic at the beginning of this year.
During the session, the Board of Directors reviewed the semi-annual performance report of EAD for the year 2020, which included the main strategic priorities, indicators of institutional capabilities and the performance of projects run by EAD. Among the most important of these factors was the high percentage of customer satisfaction with the agency’s e-services and the digital transformation of services within EAD, with an achievement record of 100 per cent of the target. Furthermore, the percentage of Emiritization in EAD has reached 81 per cent making the agency one of the top five government entities that have contributed to this growth.
Concurrently, during the meeting, a number of EAD projects for the years 2021-2024 were approved. Among those highlighted was the designs of the "Ghadan 21" initiative, the establishment of the Visitor Center and the walkway of the Mangrove National Marine Park. Moreover, other projects included the development of the Habitat Island for eco-tourism, the Visitor Center and Walk of the Wathba Wetlands Reserve and the design of the open marine museum at the Saadiyat National Marine Park.
Finally, the 2021 budget of EAD was also passed, as well as the plan to develop a five-year strategy for the years 2021-2026. The latest draft of the agency’s vision, mission and values was also ratified.