The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) is committed to safeguarding the natural resources of the UAE’s capital for a sustainable future. Besides protecting and enhancing air and groundwater quality, EAD regulates and enforces environmental protection laws. The focus is to protect the biodiversity of the land and marine ecosystems in Abu Dhabi for a better future.
ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ABU DHABI
Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) was formed in 1996. At the time of launch, it included only a small group of ecologists working for the betterment of society at large. The organisation had to overcome hurdles and barriers to raise awareness among the masses regarding biodiversity and conservation. Today, it has grown to become the largest environmental regulator in the region. EAD has taken forward the legacy of the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan – the founding father of the UAE.
EAD carries out numerous annual compliance inspections to evaluate and recognise risks to the environment in the emirate. This helps to pinpoint the focus areas and come up with an effective policy to outline the future course of action.
SHEIKH ZAYED PROTECTED AREAS NETWORK
One of the most important projects undertaken by the EAD has been the setting up of the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network. By doing so, a long list of natural habitats have come under the government’s protection giving diverse species a chance to thrive. For example, the National Mangrove Park Abu Dhabi is home to dozens of animal and plant species.
The Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network is divided into two sections.
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS
The list of marine protected areas includes Al Saadiyat Marine National Park, Al Yasat Marine Protected Area, Mangrove Marine National Park, Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, Bul Syayeef Marine Protected Area and Ras Ghanada Protected Area. This effort to protect marine and coastal diversity has had a positive impact on the environment and it reflects in the numbers of species found in these places.
TERRESTRIAL PROTECTED AREAS
Similarly, terrestrial areas have also been awarded protection under the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network. The list includes the Al Bida’a Protected Area, Al Dilfaweya Protected Area, Al Ramlah Protected Area, Qasr Al Sarab Protected Area, Arabian Oryx Protected Area, Al Ghada Protected Area, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, Jebel Hafit National Park, Yaw Al Dibsa Protected Area, Al Houbara Protected Area, Badaa Hazza Protected Area Barqa Al Suqoor Protected Area and Al Tawi Protected Area.
The environmental, ecological, cultural and economic impact of protecting biodiversity will even be seen by the generations that come after us.
DIVERSITY OF WORK
All EAD projects have one common goal – preserving the quality of life. These projects are divided into four main focus areas.
Regulation and policy formation is one of the core functions of EAD. By conducting extensive research and following international best practices, EAD helps to enforce environmental laws in the region and set the direction for the government, business operations and the community at large. Some of the regulations focus on waste management, air quality, ambient marine water quality and biodiversity. It is all about finding a way to protect the environment without reducing economic activity.
EAD has spearheaded many initiatives, including:
- Development of the Abu Dhabi Environment Policy Agenda.
- Development and implementation of Eltezam Campaign ensuring compliance with local environmental laws.
- Strengthening the legislation to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to its impact.
- Banning the use of gargour (a traditional fishing method).
Abu Dhabi is not just a well-developed, modern city. It is also one of the most diverse geographies in the region with vast deserts, grassy oases, rocky valleys and incredible mountains on the outskirts of the main city.
The coastal salt flat (sabkha) found here is a natural marvel. The vast mangroves in the capital is another proof of its biodiversity. These areas are home to 402 plant species, 382 birds, 49 mammals, 67 reptiles as well as amphibians and three freshwater fish species. Both flora and fauna in the emirate are guarded under the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network. Similarly, new discoveries are also made from time to time.
Through evidence based-planning, effective regulations are enforced to maintain biodiversity. Some of the major conservation work undertaken by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi include:
- Reintroduction of Scimitar-horned Oryx in Chad.
- Management of terrestrial and marine protected areas.
- Recording 100 invertebrate species.
- Discovery of nine insect species.
- Publishing of UAE National Framework for Sustainable Fisheries 2019-2030, in coordination with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
- Spotting an Arabian Caracal by remote sensing camera for the first time in over three decades.
- Tracking and tagging over 80 birds using the satellite tracking programme.
MONITOR AND MANAGE
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi firmly believes in research. All policies and regulations are based on facts and evidence from the monitoring of five areas including climate changes, air quality, marine water quality, waste and groundwater quality.
Twenty fixed and two mobile monitoring stations were placed across Abu Dhabi to access air quality. A comprehensive soil survey was conducted in Abu Dhabi and the other Northern Emirates. Greenhouse Gas inventories were developed to access mitigation measures and reduction in emissions. The first Ground Well Inventory was completed in 2018. All these measures have helped the government understand the environment better and take the necessary actions for maintenance and improvements.
EDUCATE AND EMPOWER
It has been a goal of EAD from the beginning to engage and educate the general public. The Sustainable Schools Initiative empowers students to understand the environmental impact and make a difference. As many as 75% of schools in the capital have enrolled in the program. Many schools have converted or are trying to convert their campuses to sustainable campuses.
Businesses are engaged through the Green Business Network, enabling them to share environment-friendly practices at their offices. The “Connect with Nature” Program also encourages the younger generation to explore the UAE’s heritage. Many events and activities are held across the year to raise awareness.
Moreover, the official EAD website is a hub of knowledge. You have access to the research publications which can be used for further research. Moreover, visitors can read more about the biodiversity of the emirate. From plant species to animals, there so much to learn.
EAD PERMITS VIA E-SERVICES
EAD issues permit for individuals and companies for a range of activities.
EAD PERMITS FOR INDIVIDUALS
Any research work being conducted in the capital, which involves physical sampling or interference in the environment is strictly regulated by EAD. The research team would need to apply for a No-Objection Permit from the organisation. Without this permit, the law-enforcement official can stop your work immediately. Similarly, fishing permits in Abu Dhabi (including those for recreational purposes) are issued by EAD. Moreover, permit for native tree plantation and translocation also come under the jurisdiction of EAD.
EAD PERMITS FOR BUSINESSES
The list of EAD permits issued for businesses include
- Animal Production Farms
- Environmental License for Industrial Facilities
- Native Trees Plantation and Translocation
- Clearance Certificate for EAD Properties Damage on Main Roads
- Environmental Licensing of Groundwater Wells Drilling and Use
- Registration of an Environmental Consultancy Office
- Environmental License for Development and Infrastructure Projects
- Environmental License for Hazardous Materials Stores
- Aquaculture License
- Environmental License for Commercial Facilities
- Permits for Scientific Environmental Research
HOW CAN I HELP?
There are several ways you can volunteer and contribute to the conservation efforts of EAD. If you are a university student, you can become part of EAD’s programs. Another way to help is to report environmental, administrative or financial violations on the official EAD website.
People who are passionate regarding the environment can also apply for a job at EAD. Vacancies are regularly advertised on the official websites. Suppliers looking to do business with EAD can also apply via the website.
If you have any queries regarding EAD, you can contact the team on +971-2-693-4444. Or you can visit the EAD HQ, which is located in Al Mamoura Building (A), Muroor Road, Abu Dhabi.
The future of Abu Dhabi relies on the availability of natural resources. If the environment is not protected, our future generation would find themselves fighting an unwinnable battle. Hence, the work done by EAD has great significance. The UAE government is doing a lot to embrace this much-needed change. The UAE Energy Strategy 2050 is an example of how things are moving at a rapid pace.
Follow MyBayut to read about all the steps taken by the government to protect the environment.