Abu Dhabi uses drones to lay seeds in mangrove regeneration plan

A project is under way to rehabilitate mangroves near a major industrial plant 90 minutes outside Abu Dhabi city

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Abu Dhabi's environment authority will use drones to plant new mangroves along the western coast of the emirate.

Environment Agency Abu Dhabi is working with Engie to rehabilitate the mangrove habitats near the French utility company's plant in Mirfa – about 90-minute drive west from the capital's city centre.

Special custom-built drones and rigging are being used to plant thousands of mangrove seeds in the area and monitor their growth for the next year.

Distant Imagery, an unmanned aerial vehicle company, built the drones and worked with the agency to identify the best area for planting.

Mirfa lagoon was selected as the best of four potential sites after analysis of tidal flow.

Distant Imagery will use its drones and seed dispersal rigging to plant at least 4,000 mangrove seeds by December. Experts will monitor levels of carbon storage as well as the ecosystem the area provides to animals and insects in the area.

The agency said planting had begun and initial reviews showed promising results.

“We are very pleased to be rehabilitating mangroves using drone technology," said Ahmed Al Hashmi, acting executive director for terrestrial and marine biodiversity at the agency.

“Rehabilitating mangroves for the sequestration of carbon is one of the methods used to combat climate change and EAD are always dedicated to that cause.”

Mangroves are abundant along the coastline of Abu Dhabi emirate and are vital in the storage of blue carbon – the term for carbon captured by the world's oceans and coastal ecosystems, including sea grasses, mangroves and salt marshes.

Though much smaller in size than the planet's forests, these coastal systems sequester carbon at a much faster rate and can continue to store it for thousands of years.