The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) will make the UAE greener. Authorities in Abu Dhabi announced on Tuesday that 10 mangrove trees will be planted for every attendee at COP28.
The event from November 30 to December 12 is expected to welcome over 70,000 visitors. This means the climate change conference will make the UAE greener by 700,000 mangroves.
The initiative highlights the UAE’s commitment to achieving climate neutrality. It reduces the environmental footprint of conference visitors — at the rate of absorbing one tonne of carbon for every 5,000 mangrove trees — according to a top official.
Spearheaded by the Abu Dhabi Environment Agency (EAD), the ‘Ghars Al Emarat’ initiative will see mangroves planted using innovative methods such as drone dispersal. It will be planted during the last quarter of this year, which is the “optimal period” for introducing this species into coastal habitats.
Targeted areas include Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, Al Mirfa City, and Jubail Island, where native mangrove populations thrive.
The UAE Capital is home to 85 per cent of the country’s mangroves.
Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary-general of EAD, said the initiative supports the UAE’s goal of planting 100 million mangroves by 2030.
Mangroves are among the most productive coastal ecosystems in the world and are, therefore, extremely important as they provide various ecological and economic services. They help mitigate the effects of climate change, as they absorb greenhouse gases and can store and sequester carbon.
In Abu Dhabi, the trees support a wide range of biodiversity. Mangroves also play an essential role in protecting neighbouring habitats such as seagrass beds and coral reefs from sedimentation, as well as helping improve water quality and supporting ecotourism activities.
Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, said: “Building a resilient, net-zero future depends on halting nature loss and restoring our natural ecosystems. Nature-based solutions, including those involving mangroves, have the potential to supply over a third of our climate mitigation needs and build resilience to the effects of climate change. I welcome this EAD-led initiative which both raises awareness and takes action to restore and protect mangroves in the UAE.”
In 2020, a study found that mangroves can store carbon at a rate of 0.5 tonnes per hectare per year. This comes to about 8,750 tonnes in Abu Dhabi per year — the annual equivalent to the energy consumption of 1,000 homes.