UAE'S FIRST NATIONAL PARK
Wadi Wurayah in the mountains of Fujairah is a secretive world of natural wonder. One of the few areas of the UAE with free-flowing freshwater, it’s bursting with the UAE’s most fascinating plantlife and wildlife – many endangered. The area also holds significant historical importance, with archaeological sites dating as far back as 300 BC.
However, Wadi Wurayah faces many threats today. Urbanisation, water exploitation, overgrazing, and human disturbances such as poaching, littering and fires all take a toll on this fragile habitat.
In 2013, the Fujairah Government appointed EWS-WWF to spearhead the creation of the Wadi Wurayah National Park – the country’s first Mountain Protected Area. Through a comprehensive management plan, the aim is to restore and sustainably manage this freshwater ecosystem and its precious resources, while continually expanding our knowledge through research to better understand the area and the species that reside within it.
KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING AND AWARENESS
As scientists scramble to understand the impacts of climate change, the Wadi could be an area of international significance. After all, it’s home to rare species, surviving in some of the world’s harshest conditions. So the set up enables extensive observation and fieldwork. It’s also a hub for volunteers, helping to build awareness of conservation. Wadi Wurayah National Park also serves as a benchmark for future PANs across the country.
HAJAR MOUNTAINS BIODIVERSITY SURVERY
The Hajar Mountains form a 600 km mountain range that spans the UAE and northern Oman. This biodiversity hotspot is home to a number of rare species. In collaboration with other organisations and government bodies, we are promoting large-scale research, as well as monitoring wildlife and gauging the health of freshwater habitats.
While our programme is already improving the depth of understanding, we believe that the key to unlocking a sustainable future for wildlife is through preserving significant natural ecosystems from the multitude of environmental threats. Our studies and collaborations will help create a network of protected areas and ecological corridors that stretch across the Emirates and into neighbouring countries – giving all UAE wildlife a fighting chance to not only survive, but thrive.
An important part of life activity in the mountains occurs at night: possibly as an adaptation to hot weather conditions. Owls and bats are two groups that occupy key positions in the food web. Until now, knowledge of the status of bats and owls in the UAE has been very poor. So as part of the biodiversity survey of the Hajar Mountains, and thanks to a grant from the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, we will initiate a study that will help provide a clearer picture of their distribution, abundance and diversity within the mountain range. In order to capture, identify and tag owls and bats, the team will go out at night and play the calls of different species suspected to be present.
WATER PRESERVATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE
For our wildlife to prosper, it’s vital to protect freshwater resources and safeguard their existence from the threats of change. In 2013 EWS-WWF helped launch a Water Research and Learning Centre. The first of its kind in the Gulf region, it enabled extensive freshwater monitoring – yielding years of valuable data.
Furthermore, as the UAE government takes bold, meaningful steps to tackle climate change and lead the region into a post-oil era, EWS-WWF is working closely with the newly formed Ministry of Climate Change & Environment. Our Climate & Energy programme will cover an extensive range of research and practical initiatives aimed at slashing the UAE’s carbon footprint, improving water efficiency and delivering more sustainable future.