Abu Dhabi nature reserve is first to win international IUCN status

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has placed the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in Abu Dhabi on its Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.

The global recognition is a realisation of the vision of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to provide a safe environment for migratory birds and breeding area for the Greater Flamingo.

Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, the first area to be designated, is home to over 4,000 flamingos and 260 other birds, 320 invertebrates, 35 plant species, 16 reptiles and 10 mammals.

It is the only site in the Arabian Gulf where the Greater Flamingo breeds regularly. This year, 601 flamingo chicks hatched at the Reserve – the highest number ever recorded at Al Wathba.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, secretary-general of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, said: “To see Al Wathba secure its status as a globally recognised Green List Area is a matter of great pride for Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

“The conservation of protected areas, natural resources and local biodiversity continues to be a key priority for the Agency. Biodiversity is an integral part of our cultural identity too, and something we want to preserve for present and future generations to come.”

The IUCN Green List is a global standard for protected areas that ensures all certified sites fulfil three major criteria – good governance, effective management, and sound design and planning.

“Al Wathba is an amazing example of what can be achieved with hard work by men and women working to protect and manage the environment,” said James Hardcastle, IUCN’s lead on the Green List programme.

Since opening to the public in October 2014, Al Wathba has attracted approximately 20,000 visitors keen on bird watching, hiking and photography.

It re-opened for the 2018-2019 season on November 1 and is welcomes visitors from 8am to 4pm (last entry at 2pm) every Thursday and Saturday.

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