Abu Dhabi: Since January 2012, one of the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) projects “The Local, National and Regional Biodiversity Rapid Assessment project” has reached out to hundreds of entities; public and private within the Arabian Peninsula to encourage them to share data on biodiversity for improved conservation planning. From the depths of the sea to the tiny invertebrates living in the heart of the desert, the success of this marine and terrestrial biodiversity project is fundamentally dependent on the willingness of entities to share knowledge.
Supported by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) on a local level, and championed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), regionally and internationally, AGEDI works to bridge the environmental data and information gap between developed and developing countries.
The assessment project aims to identify which terrestrial and marine ecosystems are most under pressure, how well they are represented in protected areas, and where the spatial priorities should be for conservation implementation on a local level in Abu Dhabi emirate, nationally in the United Arab Emirates and regionally in the Arabian Peninsula. The use of Geographical Information System (GIS) techniques coupled with decision support software tools helps to achieve map and analyse this data.
To date, from the data and knowledge shared, the project has compiled key inputs to the conservation planning process, such as an integrated habitat map, pressures layers and protected area layers. These have been used to develop initial draft ecosystem threat status and protection level assessments. Contributing stakeholders were invited to review the collation of the national level spatial data and provide feedback on assessments.
The stakeholders involved in this project are well represented by government, private and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the UAE Ministry of Environment ‘&’ Water, Dubai, Sharjah ‘&’ Abu Dhabi Municipalities, the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF), the Sharjah Breeding Centre for Endangered Arabian Wildlife, the Emirates Bird Records Committee, ALDAR and the Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO).
The stakeholders have been given opportunities to share their views on how their data has been represented. It has been a positive collaboration exercise that entities are encouraging more of in the future.
AGEDI’s project team will now turn its attention to the regional entities within the Arabian Peninsula, providing them with an opportunity to share their data. The Arabian Peninsula includes the Kingdom of Bahrain, the non-Mediterranean region of Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Representatives from the regional entities will convene together at a regional workshop scheduled for November 12 and 13, 2012 at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi’s headquarters to review and assess the collation of the data sets.
The assessment project, as a whole, is planned to conclude by the 2nd quarter of 2013, with the results to be shared for improved conservation planning in the future.