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Al Wathba Wetland Reserve receives international recognition
By a staff reporter April 30, 2013
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Abu Dhabi: The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced that the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve has been recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ratified the Ramsar Convention ever since it came into force back in 2007.

Today, Al WathbaWetland Reserve joins a prestigious list of over 2,000 other internationally recognised wetlands around the world.

Based on Ramsar’s philosophy, Al Wathba was declared an official site based on the maintenance of its ecological character, achieved through the implementation of ecosystem approaches, within the context of sustainable development.

According to Ramsar, in order for a wetland to be selected for the list, it must account for its international significance in terms of ecology, botany, zoology, limnology (study of inland waters) or hydrology (study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water).

To officially recognise Al Wathba Wetland Reserve on its list, Mr Anada Tiéga, secretary-general of the Ramsar Convention standing committee, visited Abu Dhabi to present EAD with the certificate.

“The declaration of Al Wathba as a Ramsar site is a significant milestone in the development of the Reserve since its designation as a protected area in 1998 and is a realisation of the vision of the UAE’s founding father, the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s secretary-general.

“With the support of our leadership and the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water, we are successfully managing this area and running bird monitoring and tracking programmes.

Today, the entire nation can join us in celebrating Al Wathba being internationally recognised for its contribution to the conservation of biological diversity. We are delighted that this is testament of our efforts to preserve the UAE’s natural heritage,” she added.

The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was declared a protected area by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan back in 1998 after it was converted to a reserve following an accidental discharge of over-capacity treated sewage water from Al Mafraq Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Today, the reserve supports a rich variety of wildlife including 237 species of invertebrates, 11 mammals, 10 reptiles and more than 250 species of birds. The reserve is also rich in plant species, with 37 species having been documented. 

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