Dubai, UAE, January 3, 2018: Youth sustainability organisation , Green Hope Foundation , ushered in the new year with a conservation action campaign to protect the fragile mangrove ecosystem which dot our coasts.The UAE has an extensive network of coastal mangroves which are under threat due to littering and pollution. Beachgoers leave behind tonnes of trash which get swept out to the mangroves, choking their roots and killing them. The fish, turtles and birds which live amongst these mangroves also die after ingesting this litter. Since these mangroves are located off the coast, away from public view, local residents are unaware of the impact their littering has. To address this issue members of Green Hope have been working to raise community awareness and organizing cleanup actions to rid the mangroves of their litter.
This action is in line with the theme of 2017 United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) which calls for global action “Towards a Pollution Free planet'. It is now an established fact that pollution is one of the main obstacles to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, as it destroys ecosystems and hampers economic growth. Policy makers have been urging all stakeholders to take action on the main causes of pollution which include marine litter, microplastics and single-use plastics which are causing devastation of coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, beaches with a resultant loss and extinction of species. Green Hope has always believed that conservation efforts can only be successful with the deep engagement of civil society actors and they , therefore, decided to start 2018 with a mangrove conservation campaign.
A team of 20 Green Hope members from schools and universities of Dubai, Sharjah and Al Ain kayaked to a mangrove belt on the eastern shoreline near Abu Dhabi. Armed with trash bags, its youth members foraged deep into the mangroves and collected huge amounts of litter. Glass, cans, iron pipes, plastic items of all shapes and colour, rotting cardboard and even vehicle tyres were among the things that the young environmentalists collected from the mangrove belt, leaving it litter-free for the moment. These mangroves are home to a wide variety of birds, animals and fishes many of whom choke on this litter and perish. The plastic trash is especially harmful as it clogs the mangrove roots and this ultimately kills the mangroves as they are unable to “breathe”. The Green Hope team spent several hours inside the dense , thorny mangroves , reaching deep inside them to clean the trash leaving the roots litter free for the moment. Over 100KGs of trash was collected which they loaded on to the kayaks at the end of the campaign and rowed to the shore.
Green Hope wants 2018 to be a landmark year in their conservation efforts and thus chose the New Year to begin their campaign. Over the coming weeks, the team will hold workshops to share their experiences of the cleanup and also use social media to reach out to the community to spread awareness about the need to stop littering our coastlines as they ultimately affect the mangroves.