Five years ago, the UAE imposed a seasonal fishing ban to help preserve its depleting stocks of emperor and rabbit fish. These long-term efforts have now borne fruit, with more fish replenishing our seas for generations to come. Authorities have revealed that in the past year alone, rabbit fish populations grew by a third and the average size of both fish species increased considerably. This is only one example of the conservation victories that can be achieved through a combination of expertise, funding and goodwill.
These victories should give us hope that mankind can indeed fight climate change and its consequences. Jane Goodall, one of the world’s most celebrated conservationists, embodies this positive outlook on the world.
In a recent interview with The National, Dr Goodall reflected on this philosophy and her status as a role model for aspiring environmentalists. "I just wish [my] mum was alive to know how many people have said or written 'because you taught me, because you did it, I can do it too'," she said. Despite arriving in Dubai on a 3am flight and having to speak at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature later, the veteran explorer expounded at length on the subjects of life and death, and her struggle since the 1960s to preserve our precious ecosystems. Dr Goodall's rare and enviable can-do attitude, it was clear, is the quality responsible for her having taught the world so much about the fragile limits of nature, and the remarkable limitlessness of the human spirit.
The fruit of Dr Goodall’s labours is the range of conservation efforts being undertaken around the world, both on land and sea. For instance, National Geographic operates the Pristine Seas project across the planet’s oceans. The initiative, led by explorer Enric Sala, consolidates the efforts of world leaders, business-people and NGOs to create some of the biggest marine reserves. Projects such as this rely on local or national willpower. When they succeed, they often bring animals back from the brink of extinction.
The story of the Arabian oryx is a prime example. Gulf and Arab countries have managed to bring back the endangered animal in a few decades. In the 1970s, the oryx had vanished from the wild. A decade later, following on from an initiative started by Sheikh Zayed, five specimens were brought back from a reservation in Arizona, to repopulate the Arabian desert from Oman to Saudi Arabia. Now, the UAE is home to the largest oryx population in the world.
We all have a role to play in preserving ecosystems, whether it is by supporting conservation efforts, taking steps to decrease our carbon footprint or simply educating ourselves further. Most importantly, we must believe that we can overcome significant obstacles in order to save our oceans, our forests and our wildlife. It is all too easy to capitulate in the face of despair. Despite the tragic effect of climate change and environmental catastrophes witnessed recently, success stories such as the UAE’s conservation efforts or marine reserves in Costa Rica prove that we must maintain a sense of positivity and hope if we are truly to prove ourselves limitless.