DUBAI // Six natural reserves have been formally declared in Dubai to improve the environment and boost eco-tourism.
Jabal Nazwa reserve, Al Marmoum desert reserve, Al Wuhush desert reserve and Al Ghaf reserve, Hatta mountain reserve and the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve (DDCR) will now also be run by Dubai Municipality.
They have been established to protect natural wildlife, including plants such as samar, ghaf, and side, which thrive in desert areas, said Hussain Lootah, director general of the municipality on Thursday.
In 2003, a law was put in place to establish nature reserves but the decree establishes the actual boundaries of the reserves, said Gregory Simkins, the conservation manager of the DDCR.
“There was a law set up about how to establish protected areas in the Dubai emirate, so [DDCR] was set up according to that law.
“How it was established is correct, but the actual boundaries were not written into law – it was not area specific,” he said.
“It is more of a phenomenon in this part of the world where reserves get announced but not necessarily written into law with regards to their boundaries.”
Mr Simkins said that the new law was a good move for the environment.
“It’s a very good step in the right direction with regards to securing it for the future,” he said.
The DDCR, initially set up in 2003, has a wide range of flora and fauna, including the sand cat, Arabian oryx and the mimosa tree.
Additionally, Mr Lootah said that nature reserves would be a way to boost eco-tourism in Dubai. This was already evident with the DDCR, which has a luxury desert resort and spa located in the heart of it.
Mr Lootah also said that the UAE had moved up the global environmental performance index from 152 in 2010 to 77 in 2012.
The UAE came first globally in three categories – forestry, indoor air quality and access to water.
Over the past three decades, Mr Lootah said, many natural reserves, along with several laws, had been established to protect endangered species.
The six reserves were formally declared by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.