Mangroves in the United Arab Emirates
In the United Arab Emirates, which is country characterized by arid climate, mangrove shrubs and trees of the species Avicennia marina (gray mangrove) occur naturally along several coastal areas and islands in the country. Mangrove colonies, showing signs of healthy growth are present along the near shore islands and lagoons of: Abu Dhabi, Umm Al Qaiwain, Khor Kalba, Ras Al Khaima. The estimated mangrove areas in these localities are: 2500 ha, 200 ha, 150 ha, respectively. With narrow colonies in Ajman ( 20 ha), Ras Al Khaima (20 ha) (Rabanal and Beushell, 1978).
In Dubai, efforts to restore the natural mangrove swamps were successfully carried out. For example, Dubai Municipality reported planting over 40000 seedlings in Ras Al Khor area during 1993, with majority of seedlings brought from Abu Al Abiad island in Abu Dhabi. Follow up of these cultivation indicated that the shrubs are growing very well, and they have flowered and produced porpagules. Currently, Ras Al Khor area is considered a flourishing protected mangrove swamp, that hosts a variety of marine and bird ( flamingos) types.
A nursery for mangrove seedling production have been established by Dubai Municipality, and on Abu Al Abiad Island (in Abu Dhabi), which provide a good number of seedlings for cultivation each year.
United Arab Emirates(UAE) is a country located on the Eastern side of the Arabian Peninsula bordering Saudi Arabia on one side and Sultanate of Oman on the other side. The country has its major coastlines strategically placed on the Arabian Gulf and others on the Oman Gulf. The country consists of seven different emirates which include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quiwan and ...
Embaby (1993) reviewed the geographical distribution of mangrove in UAE, using satellite images and topographic maps. He found that certain environmental aspects characterizes the areas where mangrove colonies are present. He further classified these aspects into four categories: climatic conditions, geomorphological features of the area, water characteristics, and man made modifications. He concluded that the environmental and geomorphological conditions prevailing on UAE coasts are favorable for the growth of A.marina, which can apparently tolerate water of high salinity, and dry weather conditions satisfactorily.
These trees and shrubs have been traditionally used by the natives as a source of: fire wood, housing material, charcoal, and fodder for their animals. Far important than these obvious forms of utilization are the ecological gains that these mangrove colonies have sustained the environment in the country. The substantial fishery resource the country enjoys, which amounts to an annual production of about 114000 tons in 1998, could partially be due to the positive effect these colonies provided in the form of a very productive and protected nurseries for juveniles of many fish and crustacean species.
Not only fisheries which have might benefited from these ecosystems, it is believed that they have contributed to a great extent in protecting the coastal areas from erosion by wave action. In addition they are providing a natural habitat for nesting birds.
The Ministry of Environment and Water , UAE, realized at an early stage, the importance of mangroves as an important component of the arid environment of the country, and noted their natural occurrence in several parts of the coastal area in the country. On basis of that, a mangrove afforestation program was launched as early as 1985, where thousands of propagules and seedlings are cultivated at different localities in the country every year. While in Abu Dhabi, afforestation efforts started much earlier.
A prominent feature of this program is the continuous monitoring of a colony of A.marina cultivated around the outlets of the fish culture grow out ponds, part of the facilities of the Marine Resources Research Center( MRRC) of the Ministry of Environment and Water , in Umm AL Qaiwain. The size of this colony is approximately one hectare, and it could be taken as evidence to the success of such endeavors in the country.
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Furthermore, and as an indication to the role mangrove swamps can play as a nursery ground for various fish and crustaceans species, Tamaei (unpublished data) reported the occurrence of several important fish species larvae in mangrove cultivated area off MRRC, such as mullets, snappers, groupers, sea breams, rabbitfish, baracuda, and majarra. These observations might have a profound dimension on the Ministry of Environment and Water endeavors to conserve and develop fishery resources in the country.
A sowing and cultivation technique for A.marina have been developed, the technique involves culturing propagules, and transplanting seedlings. Summary of this technique is provided below (Tamaei, 1999):