Prince William visit: Abu Dhabi announces major mangrove conservation project

Ambitious plans to safeguard the green lungs of the planet unveiled as Duke of Cambridge tours Jubail Mangrove Park and meets young pupils

Prince William plants trees with children in Abu Dhabi

Prince William plants trees with children in Abu Dhabi
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As it happened: Prince William's visit to the UAE

Abu Dhabi 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 landmark visit to the UAE.

The key project was announced as 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 on Thursday.

The Duke of Cambridge's first trip to the UAE is now under way, with efforts to promote an international green agenda high on the list.

The Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative will be implemented by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and has already secured its first partnership with the Zoological Society of London, a charity of which Queen Elizabeth II is a patron.

While at the park, Prince William and Sheikh Khaled planted mangrove saplings with green-fingered school pupils and discussed the importance of young people leading the charge for sustainable development for years to come.

Pupils from an Abu Dhabi school with strong links to Britain were excited about meeting the prince.

“He’s doing a lot of good trying to help the younger generation protect the environment as much as we can,” said Amaan Haider, 13, from The British School Al Khubairat, Abu Dhabi.

Fellow pupil Lily-Rose Mayall, 12, said: “He’s really inspirational and I’m really excited to meet him.

“He knows so much about the environment and he also helps a lot, which is really amazing.”

Headmaster Mark Leppard said Prince William's visit would be something the pupils would never forget.

“The school is linked to the British embassy and we’ve had many royal visitors,” he said.

“For the students to be involved with the prince is going to be fantastic and it is something that will stay with them for life.”

Key project to address global challenges

The Abu Dhabi 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.

The Zoological Society of London will field test different approaches with the aim of bolstering mangroves for future generations.

The programme will also develop outreach, training and advocacy for mangrove restoration both locally and internationally.

Jubail Mangrove Park opened in January 2020 to help protect biodiversity, raise awareness of the emirate’s rich mangrove ecosystem, and showcase its natural heritage.

The sprawling beauty spot is home to a variety of bird, land, and marine wildlife, and features two kilometres of boardwalk, where visitors can learn about the important ecological function of mangrove habitats in protecting and supporting biodiversity.

Mangroves are woody plants that inhabit the intertidal zones of tropical and subtropical coasts all around the world.

They are highly recognisable from their visible root systems which can give them the strange impression of being planted upside-down.

This unique appearance is the result of adaptations developed to survive in harsh environments, including high temperatures, high salinity and intense UV exposure.

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 habit for wildlife and recreation grounds for humans.

Mangroves in the UAE — in pictures

Updated: February 11, 2022, 5:34 AM