Friday, March 16, 2012

UAE’s Wadi Wurayah Protects its Biodiversity

The  next  step  in converting  the  protected area of  Wadi Wurayah into a working National Park has been announced recently by Fujairah Municipality; the municipality is working in cooperation with Emirates Wildlife Society - WWF.

An Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the two entities to mark the collaboration on the implementation of a management plan for establishing a sustainable Protected Area integrating local tradition and lifestyle with the conservation of region’s biodiversity and habitat.

EWS-WWF and Fujairah Municipality agree to continue the successful collaboration to ensure existing and future pressures on Wadi Wurayah’s natural resources, and ensure the region is managed within an ecologically sustainable framework, maintaining the characteristic and unique natural biodiversity, involving the local community, and transform the area into an important eco-tourism area for Fujairah.

Fujairah Municipality will establish a committee dedicated to oversee the management of the National Park to enforce best practices and high standards; Wadi Wurayah will be given a protected boarder with rangers employed to care for the area and its unique biodiversity and habitats.

In a press release, the Engineer Mohamed Saif Al Afkham, Director General at Fujairah Municipality has stated, “Wadi Wurayah continues to be a stronghold for wildlife in the United Arab Emirate with the continuous discovery of new species. We believe that this area is of great national importance to the UAE and are dedicated to its on-going protection, whilst allowing the community to gain access to and learn from its natural beauty.”

The wadi is a 129 kilometre-square catchment that occupies the northern reaches of Fujairah between the towns of Masafi, Khor Fakkan and Bidiyah. In October 2010, Wadi Wurayah officially joined the list of 1,932 wetlands around the world which are of international importance for biodiversity conservation under the Ramsar Convention.

Due to its habitat diversity and the presence of permanent water, Wadi Wurayah is considered an important stronghold for the wildlife in UAE.

Ida Tillisch, Acting Director General at EWS-WWF has explained, “The signing of the MOU is a great step forward in the on-going protection and preservation of  Wadi Wurayah. We are excited to be working in partnership with Fujairah Municipality in putting these plans into action and believe they will help the community better appreciate the area’s natural beauty whilst reaffirming its value. In the coming years we will be working closely with Fujairah Municipalities and other partners to assess logistical and management issues and put in place best practices to protect the species and habitat and at the same time allow the community to explore and enjoy real nature in the UAE ”.

Since being declared the UAE’s first protected mountain area by His Highness Shaikh Hamad Bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Fujairah in 2009, continuous research has been carried out with the installation of camera traps. As recently as in September 2011, 55 new species have been found, including insects, arachnids and crustaceans, 25 of these are considered new to science.

As a National Park, the area will not only benefit the local natural heritage but it is an important part of the management plan to engage the local community in the establishment of eco-tourism of the area. This includes schools, colleges, public and private sector and well as individuals who could be selling local handicrafts through the visitor centre.

Available resource links point out interesting forms of life present in the region.

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