5-year plan to protect one of UAE’s national emblems

ADEC and the IFHC have signed an agreement to extend their relationship for five more years to continue their work on the conservation of the Houbara.

 The protection of the houbara, one of the UAE's national emblems, has become the focus of a 5-year plan. Courtesy International Fund For Houbara Conservation
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ABU DHABI // Protection of the Houbara bird is the focus of a new five-year education plan designed by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation and the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

For the IFHC, a government agency dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Houbara, education is a central pillar that helps ensure that the vulnerable, migratory bird is appreciated and studied for generations to come, said Mohammed Saleh Al Baidani, director general of IFHC.

“Education has long been central to the efforts of the IFHC in achieving a sustainable future for Houbara – one of our country’s national emblems,” said Mr Al Baidani, director general of IFHC. “The country’s youth are its future, and only by way of education will they learn the importance of conservation. Thanks to this partnership with Adec, a sustainable future for Houbara and other species becomes all the more tangible. This is the future we want for the UAE’s children.”

The two government agencies signed an agreement Sunday that extends their relationship for another five years as they continue to work together on an education strategy designed to get children interested in ecology, science and genetics, with a focus on the Houbara bird.

The plan will build on Adec’s existing houbara inquiry program, which has been in place since 2011 and gives students in grades five and nine the opportunity to visit the National Avian Research Center at Sweihan to learn about the birds, said IFHC spokeswoman Delphine Delire. Before visiting the centre, the students conduct research the houbara and its cultural roots in the Emirates.

“They can have a visit of the centre to learn more and to see the birds and basically after that they have to continue working on the topic with their teachers in the class,” said Mrs Delire.

Students in grade six have also studied the houbara as part of a geographic information system (GIS) technology course that allowed them to track the birds using GPS.

“The houbara bustard is a really important bird in their cultural heritage, but if we don’t explain this from a young age, that cultural heritage might disappear,” said Mrs Delire. “It’s about making sure that they understand that this bird is part of their cultural heritage.”

Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi, director general of ADEC said the programming also helps to develop the students’ scientific research skills and enhances “their concept of preserving environment, encourage recycling and link subjects to their local environment, culture and national identity.”

Mrs Delire said the program is currently only run in government schools in the emirate, but that the goal is to extend it across the country.

“One of the objectives is also to inspire them, to show them what type of work they can do in this field,” said Mrs Delire.