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United Arab Emirates - Main Details

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Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

UAE’s particular environment – hot and dry – greatly limits the country’s biodiversity richness. UAE has 3 major varieties of ecosystem: 1) desert ecosystem (80% of the country’s area); 2) mountain ecosystem (2.6% of the country’s area); and 3) coastal and marine ecosystem (2390 km of which belong to the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman). However, being a meeting point between the Indo-Asian and Afro-European regions, it has relatively rich fauna and flora, with 731 plant species, 48 mammal species, 440 bird species, 40 varieties of coral reefs, 500 fish species, 4 turtle species and many marine mammal species, 109 varieties of algae, 67 amphibian and reptile species. Invertebrates are very prolific in the tidal rocky zone and especially in creeks (2636 species have been identified in addition to 15 varieties of spiders). In 2013, the number of declared protected areas reached 22, covering 6841 km2, including 5 areas listed under the Ramsar Convention.

Biodiversity protection, such as the conservation of the endangered Arab Falcon and the protection of camel diversity, plays an important role in UAE’s cultural legacy. Fisheries and tourism represent important parts of the UAE economy; these services aim to investigate the opportunities in building a local greener Emirate through a better understanding of carbon and coastal ecosystem services and their potential contribution to climate change mitigation efforts.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The lack of arable land, invasive alien species, climate change, red tide occurrences, overgrazing, over use of marine resources, water desalination, waste water and tourism are severely limiting the efforts to protect biodiversity. In addition, the drive to increase the area under cultivation has resulted in the rapid depletion of underground aquifers, resulting in precipitous drops in water tables and serious increases in soil and water salinity in some areas. Desertification is a growing problem, and oil spills, especially along the coast, severely pollute some areas.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The new (and first) Biodiversity Strategy of the United Arab Emirates (2014-2021) includes a series of main orientations and national goals in line with the “Emirates vision 2021”, in addition to the Emirates' Strategy for Green Development, the National Strategy for Coastal and Marine Environment, the Biosafety Strategy and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The main orientations focus on: 1) mainstreaming biodiversity in all economic and social sectors; 2) reinforcement of knowledge sharing and capacity building for upgrading and addressing biodiversity management; 3) improvement of biodiversity status through habitat protection, genetic diversity and restoration of degraded ecosystems; 4) reducing pressure on marine and terrestrial biodiversity; and 5) enhancing regional and international cooperation on biodiversity cross-cutting issues. Twenty-one national targets with action-driven and outcome-oriented measures, grouped under 5 thematic areas, have been set out. The new biodiversity strategy includes particular engagements on capacity building, communication and public awareness, resource mobilization, and on a national knowledge sharing platform in line with the CHM of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Progress on the implementation of the strategy and action plan will be monitored and assessed and findings will be reported by representatives from each Emirate.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

According to national records, forest areas increased from 245 ha in 1990 to 317 ha in 2010, and protected areas are increasingly implemented in line with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Significant progress in implementing some conservation activities, particularly national targets, related to the reduction of pressure on biodiversity. For instance, UAE uses modern methods of wastewater treatment in more than 60 facilities to combine advanced science and engineering in the deployment of efficient technologies to treat large volumes of wastewater on a continuous basis.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Huge efforts are paid by the UAE to conserve biodiversity. Several official decrees have been produced locally or at the federal level by the UAE to conserve biodiversity and its habitats. In addition, the UAE has ratified biodiversity and environment-related international conventions and signed regional agreements that enhance and conserve biodiversity.

Significant progress has been made with regard to furthering CBD implementation in response to the objectives set out by “Emirates vision 2021”. It incorporates instruments such as:

• Various legislative acts adopted by the UAE for the conservation of biodiversity.

• Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Sectoral and Cross-Sectoral Strategies.

• Implementing the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative.

• Execution of many biodiversity education and awareness programmes.

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

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  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme