Home to delicate ecosystems and endangered species, Wadi Wurayah is truly a treasure to the region. It is one of the few areas in the UAE that is bursting with unique biodiversity in flora and fauna, as well as having intact freshwater resources. The area also holds significant cultural and historical importance, with archaeological sites discovered in the wadi dating as far back as 300 BC.
However in spite of this decorated history, Wadi Wurayah today faces many threats. Urbanisation, overexploitation of water resources, overgrazing of domestic animals, poaching, hunting and habitat degradation through human activities such as littering and lighting fires all take a toll on this fragile but precious habitat that is home to some of the country’s most fascinating species.
WHAT EWS-WWF IS DOING
In 2013, Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) was appointed by the Fujairah Government to spearhead the planning and implementation of the Wadi Wurayah National Park, and will work closely with Fujairah Municipality and other stakeholders to put forward a comprehensive management plan based on international best practices and standards. Local, regional and international experts will also be contributing their knowledge to ensure conservation efforts in the park will also keep in mind the needs of the local communities around the wadi.
Through Wadi Wurayah National Park, we aim to restore and sustainably manage this freshwater ecosystem and its precious resources, while continually expanding our knowledge through research in order to better understand the area and the species that reside within it. In doing so, we ensure that:
- The rich biodiversity of the area is protected
- The area is viable for environmental services and socio-economic opportunities
- The area serves as an example for freshwater management Capacity-building for managing protected areas is increased in government institutions
CULTIVATING KNOWLEDGE ON PRECIOUS RESOURCES
We launched the Water Research and Learning Centre in Wadi Wurayah on Second February 2014 (which also happened to be World Wetlands Day!). The research centre is the product of EWS-WWF and international environmental charity Earthwatch, and the initiative is sponsored by HSBC Bank Middle East and Fujairah Government.
The centre is the first of its kind in the Gulf region, and is crucial to the Wadi Wurayah conservation plan. It will be instrumental in gathering knowledge on long-term freshwater monitoring, which is especially important in our region where rainfall is limited and the climate is arid.
Groups of volunteers can experience an intensive hands-on experience at the centre for 5 days. Fieldwork includes collecting freshwater ecology data, as well as observing hydrology and wildlife. Volunteers then also receive classroom lectures on freshwater issues globally and locally, and develop their own personal plan to preserve freshwater in their own lives.
Currently, the centre accommodates HSBC volunteers for these sessions, but the programme is expected to receive wider participation in the future.
- The UAE’s first Mountain Protected Area since 2009 Listed as IUCN Category II Protected Area (National Park)
- The Protected Area extends over 129 km and the buffer zone surrounding it around 92km
- The protected area is located between the towns of Biddiyah, Dibba and Masafi
- Became a RAMSAR site of International Importance in 2010
- 81 species of birds, 20 species of mammal, at least 9 reptile/amphibian species and 467 invertebrate species were observed in the wadi. Many of these species are rare and endangered, and some of them are even new to science
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Is your organisation interested in supporting conservation work in the UAE? Currently, there is an opportunity for companies to contribute in Wadi Wurayah, where our team is working to establish the UAE's first national park as well as a freshwater research and learning programme that will benefit the ecosystems and local communities.