To Celebrate the Year of Tolerance
Abu Dhabi: 13 November 2019: To mark the Year of Tolerance, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has created an ‘Oasis of Tolerance’ in the desert, made up mainly of Ghaf trees it planted alongside a number of diplomatic missions and government partners.
600 Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria), the symbol of the Year of Tolerance, and 1,000 Markh (Leptadenia pyrotechnica), were planted in Al Faya, 45 mins away from Abu Dhabi city. The trees spelt out the word ‘Tolerance’ in Arabic and English and were brought over from EAD’s native plant nursery in Baynounah, Al Dhafrah region.
The trees will provide shelter and habitat for several native and non-native species, some of which are considered endangered globally. The trees will also serve as a natural windbreaker from active winds in the area, which suffers from a continuous accumulation of dust. Moreover, they will act as a field of mother trees for EAD to regularly collect seeds from to propagate.
“The ‘Oasis of Tolerance’ celebrates the values of coexistence, harmony and tolerance and celebrates our diverse society that embraces more than 200 nationalities from a wide spectrum of cultures and religions living peacefully in the UAE,” said H.E. Dr Shaikha Salim Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD.
“The Ghaf tree was especially chosen because of its ability to survive our country’s dry desert environment. It also represents a great cultural value in the UAE and is associated with our identity and heritage,” Al Dhaheri added.
“One of the key ways we are helping to protect the Ghaf is by understanding more about the species in order to protect it. This year, we carried out an electronic census and numbered 54,000 Ghaf trees. This helped us identify their location and distribution and map them on a first-of-its kind map, which will help conserve the species and help to plan future projects. The distribution of natural Ghaf has been linked with rainfall rates, soil and groundwater salinity, and the prevalence of sand dunes,” Al Dhaheri added.
The Ghaf has long been protected in the UAE. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, prohibited the cutting of this tree by law and encouraged its cultivation throughout the country. In line with his directives at the time, about 6 million Ghaf trees were planted in forests in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Today, the total number of Ghaf trees in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi exceeds 10 million and they are protected by Federal Law No. 24 of 1999. The 10 million number includes natural and planted trees in forests, farms, and around residential areas.
Since its establishment, EAD has taken other measures to protect and preserve the Ghaf tree. EAD propagated the Ghaf tree within its native plant nursery in Baynounah in Al Dhafra region. Seeds were also collected from various locations across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and encouraged its government partners to cultivate the Ghaf within the various agricultural projects across the Emirate. Moreover, EAD regularly monitors areas where the Ghaf tree grows through routine patrols. Finally, EAD works with schools and universities and engages the public to raise awareness about the historical significance of the Ghaf tree.