64 > qatar today > may 2013
angrove orests are aunique and rich eco-system ound alongintertidal coastlinesat tropical and sub-tropical latitudes.In Qatar, there areapproximately tenmangrove sites concentrated in the east,north and northwest o the country, mostnotably in Al Khor. The plants play a ma- jor role in climate change mitigation: theircarbon sequestration potential is 50 timesgreater than that o tropical orests and 10times that o the temperate orests ound inNorthern Europe. According to research by the United Nations Educational, Scienticand Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), they can absorb up to 1.5 tonnes o carbon peryear per hectare.However, their presence is being com-promised by a number o actors such ascoastal development projects, oil spillagesand pollution by solid waste like plastic,aluminium and glass. Where once they cov-ered 32 million hectares worldwide, they now cover only 15 million. But while theirpresence is declining across the world, andindeed the Gul, places such as Eritrea and Abu Dhabi have dedicated resources to re- versing this trend. It’s hoped that Qatar willollow their lead.“I read in the
some monthsago that Qatar has an annual CO2 equiva-lent emission o 85 million tonnes o car-bon,” said Benno Boer, UNESCO’s Ecolog-ical Sciences Adviser or the Arab Region.“However, one hectare o mangroves canonly sequestrate 1.5 million tonnes peryear. So i we extrapolate that, then wecome to the conclusion that in Qatar alone we would need a surace o 600,000 squarekilometres o mangroves to sequestratethe total carbon output o one year. But wecan continue that or about 500 years, be-cause each hectare o mangrove sedimentcan store up to 700 tonnes o carbon inthe sediment.“Awareness, management and conserva-tion plans need to be developed, in order togenerate the needed attention with top-lev-el political support. Abu Dhabi deserves ap-plause, because it is very active in mangrovedevelopment since the 1970s, and is one o the ew countries in the world that actual-ly shows an increase in mangrove cover-age, and this is based on political will andunderstanding,” he continued.
These ecosystems can thrive in hot dry cli-mates without any supply o resh waterbecause they are “halophytic“ or seawa-ter-tolerant plants. Qatari-owned company Mourjan Marinas IGY approached UNES-CO last year about the possibility o puttingmangroves into foating containers on their jetty so they wouldn’t have to use resh wa-ter to irrigate them – the seawater couldpercolate up rom below. Their questionintrigued the global agency.“In the past, some have suggested pro-ducing mangroves in inland deserts underseawater irrigation to make the deserts
times greaterthan tropiCalforests andmangrovesCarbonsequestrationpotential istimes that ofthe temperateforestsmillion km2 oCeansurfaCe,but only
is suitable due totemperature andnutrient availability
Benno Boer,eclgicl Scics avis f h abrgi UneSCo (hi lf) ss wih h fficils h Lusil mi ls h.
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