Abu Dhabi, February 18, 2018: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) organised a clean-up campaign on Saturday to clean Jebel Hafeet and the surrounding area from waste that would otherwise be harmful to public health and the environment. Jebel Hafeet is home to some of the most threatened species of wildlife and plants in the country.
The clean-up was the second in a series of clean-up campaigns in 2018, organised by EAD, under the theme 'Together We Make The Difference' to mark the Year of Zayed. The aim is to engage the community in cleaning beaches, diving sites, deserts and other habitats across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to help ensure a safe, clean and healthy environment.
The campaign, which began at 7:30 am and ended at 11 am, was attended by more than150 volunteers from several government and private entities as well as residents of Al Ain city. Among these entities were Abu Dhabi Police, Traffic & Patrol Directorate - Al Ain, Al Ain Sports Club, Al Ain Municipality, Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, Al Ain Zoo, Mercure Grand Jebel Hafeet Hotel, Natural Reserves Department of Al Ain, Department of Culture and Tourism, United Arab Emirates University, Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi (Tadweer), and NMC Specialty Hospital.
Volunteers were able to collect more than 180 Kgs of waste, which was largely made up of items leftover by visitors to the mountain. This included cigarette butts, plastic bottles, plastic bags, juice packets, soft drinks cans and even bags of charcoal.
Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, said: "Jebel Hafeet is home to a long list of rare wildlife and plant species that are important to our natural heritage. It is home to breeding populations of globally threatened species such as the Blandford's Fox and Brandt's Hedgehog as well as a number of other species that are rare or not found elsewhere in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. It is also home to the globally threatened Arabian Tahr and to the only concentration of the Globally Threatened Egyptian Vulture in the UAE. Our scientists have recorded breeding Kestrels there as well as Bonelli's Eagle, a resident breeding bird, and the Hume's and Hooded Wheatears. Another important species that is resident in and around the mountain and its wadis is the Sand Partridge."
She noted that "At first sight, Jebel Hafeet appears to be barren of vegetation, yet it is home to the Dwarf palm tree, locally known as Asef, and an extremely rare native orchid species. The Dwarf palm tree is the only species of native palm found in the UAE and is considered one of the rarest plants in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and even in the Arabian Peninsula.
"We are keen to involve volunteers from the community in these clean-ups because, as the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, stressed, environmental protection is not a matter only for government officials. It is an issue that should concern us all. And so, we call on more members of the community to get involved and to keep our precious environmental sites free of waste."