Thousands of mangroves will be planted and coral gardens cultivated off the east coast of the UAE under a regeneration plan to protect the country’s vulnerable marine ecosystems.
The Fujairah Coral Reef Gardens is the largest regeneration project of its kind in the Emirates and is intended to encourage marine life to return to artificial habitats. It was launched last year and continued to develop this year.
The scheme involves growing corals and mangroves in coastal areas, as well as building caves where fish can thrive.
About 3,200 caves are on course to have been developed in coastal areas this year.
Municipalities in Fujairah and Dibba united in a project with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to cultivate 1.5 million corals across more than 300,000 square metres over the next five years.
The latest phase of the environmental initiative includes 9,200 pieces of coral off the coast near Kalba and 3,000 mangrove seedlings planted in the first six months of 2020.
Mangroves offer substantial benefits as a form of climate change control. Ten square kilometres of mangrove forest can store the same amount of carbon as 5,000 hectares of tropical upland forests.
Healthy and widespread coral and mangrove fields are vital for growth of fish stocks, allowing other marine life to flourish.
Coastal barriers and natural rocks provide an ideal environment for the formation of coral reefs.
To encourage growth, government marine specialists launched a coral cultivation project using an innovative cutting technique called micro-fragmentation.
The first stage involved planting 500 pieces of coral on natural rocks off the coast of Umm Al Quwain in water of depths from five to 15 metres.
Developing underwater mangrove forests can also reduce harmful carbon emissions and protect coastal areas from erosion caused by waves, marine currents and human activity such as construction.
Since 2019, the environment ministry planted 100,000 mangrove seeds across 1.2 million square metres, producing more than 34,000 seedlings.