Many of these forests were planted as part of the Late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s “Greening the Desert” programme. This was designed to improve the quality of life for those living and working in Abu Dhabi Emirate, to protect infrastructure and to create habitat for wildlife. Forestry in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi is mostly irrigated using groundwater. Forests are the second largest consumer of groundwater after agriculture, using 16 % of the available ground water budget. In Abu Dhabi Emirate, groundwater is a non-renewable resource. Only around 5 % of the groundwater that is used annually is recharged through the movement of groundwater from Oman and, to a very limited extent, rainfall. At the current rates of abstraction, the emirate’s usable groundwater (fresh and brackish water) may only last for around 50 years.

Current State

12.6 %

Reduction of all water use in Forestry in 2016


Urban and infrastructure developments are increasingly putting enormous pressure on the sustainability of Abu Dhabi Emirate’s forest legacy.


Since forests in the emirate are artificial and dependent on human intervention, they face different pressures than natural forests elsewhere, including groundwater depletion, finance and cultural heritage.


Forests currently cover 3.5 % of the emirate. They include 20 million tree species and over 55,000 ungulates (both native and non-native). Of the forests, 79 % are classified as being in good condition.


Groundwater depletion affects 21 % of forests in Abu Dhabi Emirate due to the deterioration of groundwater quantity and salinity.


The classification and prioritisation of forests will ensure they can be managed scientifically and reduce their carbon footprint. Plans to optimise forestry areas in Abu Dhabi Emirate are in place, including accurate measurement of groundwater consumption using the crop calculator tool.

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