UAE endorses Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use

GLASGOW-UK, The UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use that commits countries to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while advancing sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.

Over 90 countries have supported the declaration at the COP26 Leaders’ Action on Forests and Land Use Event during the World Leaders’ Summit. The forum convened governments, companies, financial actors, and non-state leaders to raise ambition on forests and land use in a way that delivers for the climate, people, economic development, and biodiversity.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “When forests are lost and land is degraded, we are at a risk of losing the countless services these vital ecosystems offer, such as providing critical habitats for biodiversity and acting as natural carbon sinks to regulate climate at the forefront. We believe in the multilateral process as key to solving global challenges. Therefore, the UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and will work with other like-minded nations to end and reverse forest loss and land degradation worldwide. We urge all leaders to join forces in the global transition to sustainable land use.”

In the fight against land degradation, the UAE reinforces its blue carbon ecosystems – coastal vegetation such as mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and seagrass meadows. Mangrove forests serve as powerful carbon sinks that sequester CO2 and enhance environmental resilience, thus offering considerable climate change mitigation and adaption benefits as well as providing critical habitats for biodiversity.

To expand its blue carbon ecosystems, the country has committed to planting 30 million mangroves by 2030 in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

The UAE has rolled out the National Blue Carbon Project that aims to enhance understanding about carbon storage and other services provided by the coastal ecosystems in the country. The project provides options for integrating these learnings into policy and management, leading to the sustainable use of these ecosystems and their services, and their preservation for future generations.

The UAE is employing modern technologies and innovative solutions in its efforts to combat land degradation, including leveraging drones to map agricultural areas and sow tree seeds to reduce sand encroachment. Drones have helped disperse 6 million acacia seeds and 250,000 ghaf seeds across 25 sites nationwide.

In addition, the UAE is leveraging highly innovative drone planting technology to sow mangrove seeds. This goal is supported by the ambitious Plantation Rehabilitation Program that involves the rehabilitation of all types of plants, especially rare species and those on the brink of extinction.

The country is currently establishing the Abu Dhabi Plant Genetic Resources Centre (Gene Bank) that will be the largest in the region with a capacity to store 20,000 samples once completed in 2022. The facility aims to preserve plant biological diversity in the UAE and the wider region, and to help reproduce it in nature.

Recognizing that protected areas play a key role in conserving endangered species and their habitats, the UAE has 49 protected areas that account for 15.5 percent of the country’s territory.

To guide the country’s efforts to protect and restore its natural environment, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) is updating the National Strategy to Combat Desertification that focuses on preserving ecosystems and mitigating the effects of desertification.

To boost community participation in the government’s drive to protect and restore the natural habitats of indigenous flora, MOCCAE launched the Gheras app, offering the public access to a complete database of local plant species and ways to care for them.

The Ministry is also working on the UAE Smart Map of Natural Capital using remote sensing that will inform policies and decision-making on land use, investment, and business improvement in line with the country’s economic vision and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The high-resolution map will identify local biodiversity-rich ecosystems and services they provide to the environment, in addition to an economic valuation of these services.

Source: Emirates News Agency