The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has successfully completed its assessment of Abu Dhabi’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The Abu Dhabi Red List of Ecosystems, part of EAD’s Abu Dhabi Assessment Project, is the first such assessment of ecosystems in the region.

The Abu Dhabi Red List of Ecosystems will support our efforts to effectively protect threatened habitats and ecosystem in the emirate by including priority threatened ecosystems within our plans to expand our protected areas network. This will further strengthen our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts, especially as the UAE prepares to host COP28 later this year.

The list will be vital for development of the emirate of Abu Dhabi as it will help with urban planning, land use and infrastructure projects whereby we will be helping encourage the growth of Abu Dhabi without compromising on the conservation of the environment and the preservation of our ecosystems.

The Abu Dhabi Red List of Ecosystems will be published as an IUCN document and will be disseminated across the globe, highlighting Abu Dhabi’s efforts to apply internationally-benchmarked processes at a local level to protect our biodiversity.

A total of 16 terrestrial and marine ecosystems were assessed, twelve ecosystems were assigned ‘Threatened’ status, two were assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’, five ‘Endangered’, and five were assessed as ‘Vulnerable’. Based on the assessment, there is no collapsed ecosystem within the emirate.

Mountains and wadis, coastal plains, mangroves forest, saltmarshes, and coral reef ecosystems are some of the most threatened ecosystems as per the assessment carried out in Abu Dhabi. Many of these ecosystems are already covered under the network of protected areas managed by EAD.

The Agency manages a network of 20 protected areas in Abu Dhabi, which preserve the emirate’s biodiversity, particularly threatened species and ecosystems. The establishment of these areas is linked to extensive monitoring of species and habitats, as well as projects to restore and rehabilitate plants and animal species.

The Agency has successfully rehabilitated critical plant species – such as the Al Sarh, Ghaf and Samar trees –in their natural habitats to ensure they remain part of Abu Dhabi’s landscape and cultural heritage. EAD’s efforts have also proven impactful, with additional recoveries of several threatened species – including Arabian Oryx, dugongs, and turtles. Abu Dhabi’s efforts to restore mangroves and coral reefs and protect marine biodiversity have also received international recognition, listed among the Top Ten pioneering restoration efforts globally under the ‘UN Decade on Restoration’.