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Fri 5 Apr 2019 10:03 AM

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Abu Dhabi reveals plan for mega nursery to boost conservation

Set to commence production by 2020, the facility will serve as a lab forresearch projects and germination experiments

Abu Dhabi reveals plan for mega nursery to boost conservation
The nursery will also collect and store plant seeds to create a nucleus for use in larger projects at the Abu Dhabi Plant Genetic Resources Centre. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced plans to establish a new central nursery for local plants in Abu Dhabi with a production capacity of one million seedlings per year.

Set to commence production by 2020, the facility will serve as a lab for EAD’s research projects and conduct germination experiments on key native wild plant species found across the emirate.

The nursery will also collect and store plant seeds to create a nucleus for use in larger projects at the Abu Dhabi Plant Genetic Resources Centre, which will act as a repository for the seeds of over 700 wild plant species found in the UAE.

EAD said the conservation of native wild plant species is an essential pillar of its mandate, with local plants in Abu Dhabi making up 58 percent of the country’s wild flora, a statement said.

"Unregulated and uncoordinated seed collection in Abu Dhabi is one of the main challenges in local plant conservation," said Dr Sheikha Salem Al Dhaheri, acting secretary-general of EAD.

"Such unsustainable practices adversely impact the target species as often ignore correct protocols are not followed, and extraction is far beyond the natural regeneration capabilities of the species," she said.

According to UAE Federal Law No.24 of 1999, it is prohibited to cut wild plants, uproot them or collect them illegally.

According to the agency, there are currently 436 species of local native wild flora.

Al Dhaheri added: "Local plants benefit human lives in multiple ways - as vital sources of food and medicine, for nitrogen fixation, to stabilise sand dunes and prevent erosion, all while enriching the region’s biodiversity. It is unfortunate that these plants are also impacted by unregulated tourism, overgrazing and the illegal cutting and trading of wood, which has resulted in the decline of some key species, as well as the overall degradation of local habitats."

EAD said it is currently managing the Baynounah Nursery in the Al Dhafra region that has a production capacity of 300,000 seedlings per year. The agency uses these seedlings in its initiatives to rehabilitate wild habitats. The nursery currently stores the seeds of 58 species of native wild plants, such as the Little Dwarf Palm, Umbrella Thorn Acacia, Ghaf, Oriental Cherry, White Saxaul.

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