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Madinat Zayed & Ruwais Colleges students help preserve mangroves

This is the season for planting out young mangrove saplings along the beautiful un-spoilt Al Gharbia coastline.

This week students from Madinat Zayed and Ruwais Colleges travelled with staff to Al Mirfa beach to join a Western Region Development Council  (WRDC) initiative,  helping to replenish the mangrove forests and ensure that they are still there for their children in the future.

An early start was needed to beat  the incoming tide.  Students from Madinat Zayed and Ruwais Women’s Colleges were the first to get planting, carrying the thirty centimetre saplings down to the water’s edge and working their way back up the beach as the sea came in and covered them.

Majmuddin Vistro, Mangrove Project Manager  from Barari Forest Management, demonstrated to the students how to make sure the small trees were securely planted the correct distance apart in a straight line.  Soon the men’s college had started on their section of the beach and a couple of local schools arrived to help, along with supporters from the local community and WRDC.

By the time the sea had fully covered the beach, most of the new trees had been planted and the students had learnt that supporting their environment can be good fun.  They had also learnt about the value of the mangroves and their importance to the ecology of Al Mirfa.

Mangroves grow in salt water and have an unusual root system that grows upwards to process oxygen.  They are an essential part of the Al Gharbia and Abu Dhabi coastline.  They provide invaluable protection to the beaches, preventing erosion and acting as a buffer from storms.  They are natural filters which clean the water and have their own eco-system,  providing a nursery for baby fish, a home for  many species of water and land creatures, including crabs and red foxes and they provide a stop off point on the annual migration of many birds.

There are 3,000 hectares of mangrove forest in the United Arab Emirates, and Abu Dhabi has around seventy five percent of those.   It takes about thirty years for a mangrove plant to grow three meters.  The greatest  threat to the mangroves are human beings.  They need tidal flow with water going in and out, but rapid development and dredging often disrupt this, and  whole forests have in places been  destroyed to make way for new buildings and hotels.

Adrian Nichol, from Student Services, who had organised the student attendance said : “It was great to see the students joining in this community project and having such a good time doing something so valuable for Al Gharbia. We now need to make sure that the plants survive.   We plan to follow up the planting by monitoring the growth of the saplings , as well as the  health of the rest of the mangrove forests along the coastline of the Western Region.”


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