The Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW) has launched the National Blue Carbon Project report, marking the first national quantification of the UAE’s Blue Carbon stocks, which will help guide decision-making in coastal ecosystem preservation and climate change mitigation.
Blue Carbon refers to coastal vegetation, which studies have shown can sequester carbon far more effectively than terrestrial forests.
The project was a collaborative initiative managed and facilitated by a partnership between the ministry and the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (Agedi), and implemented in collaboration with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) alongside the local authorities of the other emirates.
The report was jointly launched at the 11th edition of the Ecocity World Summit 2015 in Abu Dhabi by the trio.
Alongside the event, Dr Stephen Crooks, one the project’s two principle investigators presented the findings.
The project facilitated the quantification of carbon stocks of 18 mangroves of the UAE across three key areas: in the Sea of Oman (Kalba) of Sharjah Emirate (four); in the Arabian Gulf of the Northern Emirates (six); and in the Abu Dhabi Emirate (eight).
Furthermore, after quantifying carbon stocks, data were analysed to compare findings across the various areas, all of which are highlighted in the report.
Dr Rashid Ahmed Mohammed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, said: "The National Blue Carbon Project report aims to broaden the scope of knowledge of blue carbon, its associated ecosystem services and the importance of assessment across coastal environments."
"This project is the first of its kind in the region and looks towards strengthening the UAE’s leading position in issues concerning the environment, biodiversity and climate change at both regional and global levels," he stated.
He pointed out that the Blue Carbon Project represents an important step in the efforts to conserve biodiversity and mitigate climate change, which is one of the main objectives of the national strategy for biodiversity - improving the contribution of ecosystems in carbon stocks by 2021 to help mitigate climate change by strengthening the capacity of marine and coastal ecosystems to absorb greenhouse gases.
These systems have a better ability to absorb than any other source, he added.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the secretary-general of EAD, said: "Coastal ecosystems are an extremely important part of our culture and heritage, and they must be protected to safeguard our future – and this is something that can only be facilitated with access to timely, actionable information."
"This collaborative project is a reflection of a shared commitment to helping guide decision-making towards environmental sustainability – across the UAE, and for generations to come," he noted.
The findings suggest that mangroves of the Northern Emirates are generally larger than those of Abu Dhabi Emirate – however, this varied.
Moreover, significant differences were also found in the carbon stocks of mangroves in the Northern and Eastern Emirates compared to those sampled in Abu Dhabi, with the greatest differences being in the plant carbon pools.