Wetland Monitoring Workshop in United Arab Emirates

Participants of the workshop on wetlands monitoring in United Arab Emirates

Participants of the workshop on wetlands monitoring in the United Arab Emirates

Dubai Municipality, Environment Department-Natural Resources Conservation Section, in collaboration with Tour du Valat and the Horizon-2020 SWOS project (Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service), organised a workshop on wetlands monitoring between 5-9th of November 2017. Around 60 experts in wetland management and remote sensing from governmental, academic institutions and the private sector in United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Gulf Cooperation Council countries attended the workshop.

The aim of the workshop was to enhance the experience of the participants in developing and implementing monitoring plans for wetland ecosystems.

During the workshop the participants addressed site-based issues, integration of Earth Observation (EO) Data for the assessment of wetlands status and trends, and implementation of monitoring plans using the practical example of Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – a wetland of international importance and the first Ramsar Site in the United Arab Emirates. The workshop included a field trip to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which gave participants a hands-on experience of identifying the site’s ecological character and an opportunity to implement monitoring techniques learned at the workshop. Additionally, by the end of the workshop, the participants also had the opportunity to use the new EO-based software for wetlands mapping using satellite images (GEOclassifier), developed within the framework of the SWOS project.

In 2007, Dubai was the first emirate to list Ras Al Khor as the first Wetland of International Importance according to the Ramsar Convention, and now the United Arab Emirates has the highest number of Ramsar Sites among the Arabic countries in West Asia, with seven sites distributed in five emirates (among these sites, two of them will be monitored using EO-based SWOS tools, in addition to two other non-Ramsar wetlands, and all maps and indicators will be integrated in the SWOS geoportal).

In the United Arab Emirates, wetland ecosystems are given high importance regarding the management of natural resources. In this context, Dubai is not only contributing to their conservation at the local scale, but also globally as the 13th Meeting of the Conference of Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP13) will be held in Dubai in October 2018.

Ten years after the listing of the first Wetland of International Importance in Dubai, the present plan is to advance the management planning implementation and establish robust monitoring plans and indicators to maintain the ecological character of wetlands, including the various economic, environmental and social services that they provide.

By Anis Guelmami and Christian Perennou, Tour du Valat