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Monday, March 8, 2010

Use designated sites, desert-goers asked

BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 31 Dec 2009

With the advent of desert safari season in the UAE, the authorities advise the desert-goers to utilise designated camping sites set up across the countryÕs desert as part of a desert environment protection drive.
The current interest of the environment ministry is creating sustainable tourism activities in the desert, preserving its environment and wildlife, says a senior official of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MOEW).
Saif Mohammed Al Shara’a, Executive Director for Water Resources and Nature Conservation at the MOEW, said, “The ministry targets to tackle the alarming issues of desert pollution, with various sorts of garbage including plastic bottles and bags piled up in the desert causing fatal threats to camels, birds and other wildlife species.”
He was speaking on the sidelines of the Desert Environment Protection Campaign launched by Hobbies Club on Tuesday, aimed at preserving the natural environment and as well as its wildlife.
“The MOEW had created a special department in the beginning of this year to fulfill the strategy of introducing the designated desert camping sites in various parts of the country. Our plans will provide the highest standards of protection to animals,” he added.
Dumping site
Al Shara’a explained, “The desert has become a dumping site. Birds die from eating trash, while about 25 kilogrammes of plastic was found from the stomach of some dead camels.”
Plastic trash
“Plastic trash can quickly kill the animals, as it blocks their intestines. It can kill slowly when it releases its toxins or the animals starve to death. Skin, organs and bones will disappear but the plastic in the stomach will remain for hundreds of years,” he noted.
Arif Al Abbar, Managing Director of the Hobbies Club, said, ÒThe second edition of the campaign will run from Jan1 to March3 with plans to increase public awareness about the importance of preserving the environment of the desert of the UAE.”
Residents’ role
“The drive targets to support the strategy to turn the desert as a centre for developing ecologically sustainable tourism. It will work closely with local authorities to put the plan into action, in the wake of various issues of pollution in the desert. The problem needs to be tackled by everyone, including residents,” he added.
According to Al Shara’a, the desert reclamation and expansion of the green cover policy had been initiated by the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, followed by urban expansion plans, infrastructure development and mega projects in the desert areas.

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