UAE to protect more natural habitats in bid to increase eco-tourism

There are 43 officially declared protected areas that span more than 14 per cent of the country’s territory, which exceeds the target set out in the National Strategy for Biodiversity 2015-2021.

ABU DHABI // The UAE will make greater strides towards eco-tourism while expanding its areas of special protection, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment said on Sunday.

Even as the country is developing swiftly, it has been working to preserve nature while maximising the value of its natural resources, said Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, ahead of World Environment Day on Monday.

“The UAE has created natural areas, developed hundreds of natural sites, established tourist resorts around the most important natural and historical areas within urban development plans, and invested in promoting eco-tourism,” he said.

There are 43 official protected areas that span more than 14 per cent of the UAE’s territory, which exceeds the target set in the National Strategy for Biodiversity 2015-2021.

The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is “Connecting People with Nature”. It represents human capital, the cornerstone of development, awareness of the importance of living in harmony with nature, and of using natural resources in a sustainable manner.

“The country has endeavoured to provide appropriate protection to many areas of land and sea that are environmentally sensitive or historically significant so that they can withstand natural and developmental pressures and challenges,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.

He also stressed the importance of raising awareness among the youth to preserve the environment and natural resources.

“We opened many museums dedicated to history and nature. Moreover, the Government organises festivals, competitions and heritage exhibitions throughout the year in addition to running awareness campaigns on the economic, social and environmental importance of natural resources,” he said.“The Founding Father of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed stated that we have been committed to the principle of coexistence between man and nature, and although our rapid population growth and ambitious plans require more exploitation of our resources, we have tried to achieve this in a sustainable way”, Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

This is reflected in the UAE Vision 2021, launched by the President Sheikh Khalifa, that emphasises the importance of “protecting the country’s natural environment from the dangers of human activities on a local and global scale,” said Dr Al Zeyoudi.