Abu Dhabi launches rehabilitation programme to protect rare plant species near Jebel Hafeet

More than 100 plants were restored along the 9km stretch of Jebel Hafeet National Park

A rehabilitation programme has been launched in Abu Dhabi to help preserve and regenerate some of the UAE’s most endangered plant species.

The project, managed by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, aims to restore the mountainous natural habitats in the Jebel Hafeet National Park.

More than 100 plants were restored along the 9km stretch of park, which sits at the base of the capital’s highest peak, including 30 Caralluma and 30 Arabian Moringa.

Expert teams from the agency also rehabilitated 55 dwarf palms, which are considered the rarest and most threatened plant in Abu Dhabi.

The popular reserve has developmental pressures, including exposure to a harsh climate, which makes plant rehabilitation operations a necessity.

“The reserve hosts a large group of rare species which cannot survive in the surrounding desert," said Ahmed Al Hashemi from the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity sector at EAD.

"They must be protected to sustain their cultural and environmental value for future generations.

"Despite its small area, it is rich in biodiversity and 170 plant species have been recorded which constitutes approximately 40 per cent of the total plant species in Abu Dhabi."

Several attempts were undertaken in the past to increase the population of dwarf palms in the area, but it was difficult to harvest mature seeds due to wild animals and birds feeding on them.

As part of the current programme, experts from EAD will monitor the plants to ensure they stay alive in the heat.

More than 100 seeds from the different plants were also collected and planted at the Baynouna nursery in the Al Dhafra region.

The nursery specialises in the conservation of native flora and houses about 68 different plant species.

The annual production capacity of the nursery is approximately 380,000 seedlings.