Biodiversity

Although less than 2 % of all the species recorded in the emirate are classified as ‘threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Red List, a much higher percentage could be considered ‘vulnerable’. The emirate’s species are threatened due to a multitude of factors, the main being a loss of habitat due to rapid development along the coastline. Conservation of biodiversity ranks high on the UAE National Agenda: it provides ecosystem services, creates a livelihood for local communities, and also has enormous socio-economic benefits through eco-tourism.

Current State

80 %

Of terrestrial and marine habitat baseline area retained in Abu Dhabi Emirate in 2015

Drivers

Population and economic growth are driving urban and industrial development, which are key causes of the degradation and loss of biodiversity.

Pressures

The pressures on the emirate’s biodiversity are no different than in the rest of the world. Rapid industrial and urban development lead to habitat loss and degradation, further exacerbated by the effects of climate change in the emirate, with a significant impact on biodiversity. Over-exploitation of the emirate’s fisheries has led to a collapse of fish stocks for some key species.

State

In spite of the harsh environment, the emirate’s biodiversity is rich, with both regional and global significance. Abu Dhabi Emirate has nearly 3,800 known species and more are being discovered. Populations of some key species are stable, although many have declined. Of the total known species in the emirate, less than 2 % are classified as ‘threatened’.

Impacts

In addition to the broader impact of habitat loss on biodiversity there is also a bleak outlook for the future of some species in the emirate, including the Arabian Tahr, Sooty Falcon and some commercially exploited fish species.

Responses

An extensive network of Protected Areas (PAs) covers nearly 29 % of the emirate’s terrestrial and marine biomes. Monitoring and reintroduction programmes are leading to a change in the status of some of the most threatened species. The development of policies, regulatory frameworks and other policy instruments (such as guidelines) is likely to bring more positive changes for the long-term conservation of the emirate’s biodiversity.

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