An eco-friendly army of volunteers planted 5,000 mangroves in under an hour in Dubai in support of the UAE's ambitious drive to breathe new life into the "green lung" of the planet.
More than 100 members of New York University Abu Dhabi's community outreach programme came together at a beauty spot near Jebel Ali to play their part in the country's bid to plant a further 100 million mangroves by 2030.
That key pledge was made at last year's Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow as part of the Emirates' ongoing efforts to support the global green agenda.
Dubai's mangrove coverage was bolstered under a partnership between NYUAD Community Outreach and the Emirates Marine Environmental Group.
“Our goal through the volunteering and community-based learning opportunities we offer to our students is to promote meaningful community involvement, embrace the rich diversity of the UAE, and cultivate ethical and inclusive leadership," said Esraa Bani, head of community outreach at the university.
"This specific initiative is very close to our hearts not only because it contributes to NYUAD’s commitment to a sustainable future and NYU’s Carbon Neutrality 2040 goal but also because we are actively engaging UAE’s youth in protecting one of the country’s unique ecosystems, a 'green lung' for the big cities and an irreplaceable wildlife habitat.”
Mangroves help to reduce carbon emissions and provide critical natural habitats for baby fish and other sea creatures.
The trees also protect the UAE’s coasts from rising sea levels and storms.
The Emirates is already home to 60 million mangroves that form forests spanning 183 square kilometres and capture 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.
Planting 100 million mangroves will increase the coverage to 483 square kilometres, with the forests able to capture about 115,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
Mangroves are estimated to cover more than 150 square kilometres of the UAE's coastline, acting as a “green lung” for big cities such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai, while also providing habitats for wildlife and recreation areas for humans.
UAE aims to be mangrove conservation centre
Abu Dhabi in February set out ambitious plans to establish the emirate as a global hub for research and innovation in support of the conservation of mangroves during Prince William's milestone visit to the UAE.
The key project was announced when Britain's Prince William met Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, at Jubail Mangrove Park.
The Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative is being carried out by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. The eco drive will provide a platform for innovation in mangrove research and support efforts to combat climate change.
A state-of-the-art mangrove nursery will also be established to act as a centre of research and learning.
The scheme aims to enable mangrove recovery to address the climate crisis and safeguard precious biodiversity.
The partners will develop a joint programme of research support on the assessment of blue carbon storage in different regional ecosystems and help to develop standardised assessment methods across habitats, such as mangroves and reefs, that allow for the comparison of data sets.
Under the project, cutting-edge genetic and planting methods will be used to breed resilient mangrove strains.