The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently launched the first ever Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species, (AD-RLS) which is an assessment of the threat status of the emirate’s terrestrial and marine species.

The development of the Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species is the outcome of a project undertaken by the Agency to understand and assess the risk faced by groups of species found in Abu Dhabi.

A total of 244 species were assessed, including 101 plants, 49 birds, 9 marine species, 32 terrestrial mammals, 25 invertebrates, 26 reptiles and 2 amphibians. Out of the 244 species assessed, 74 are under different threat categories, such as critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable.

Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD's Secretary-General said: “The Abu Dhabi Red List is a welcome addition to our knowledge on the threat status of species found in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Red List is based on the internationally recognized Red List Criteria, developed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the assessments of threat status have gone through extensive external review from a team of experts from the IUCN, the Red List Authority, and independent experts.

‘‘Abu Dhabi has a rich diversity of species and has some of the most important species. Their populations are effectively protected by the Agency through managing the largest network in the region of protected areas to conserve endangered species and their natural habitats. However, understanding the risk and evaluating the threats faced by them as well as other species, will help us better protect them.’’

Ahmed Al Hashmi, Acting Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector said: ‘‘The Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species has been long overdue, and it is an important addition to our understanding of the threats to the species in line with the global standards of IUCN.

“The Abu Dhabi Red List also complements the National Red List development. undertaken by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and is consistent with the development of such lists at local, national and regional levels.”

Commenting on the Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species, Dr. Salim Javed, Acting Director, Terrestrial Biodiversity and Manager of the Red List Project at EAD said: “The Abu Dhabi Red List is the outcome of the evaluation of extinction risk of over 244 species, based on quantitative criteria. It is an important first step towards understanding the conservation status of Abu Dhabi’s biodiversity.

“With 30% of the total assessed species classified as threatened, the Abu Dhabi Red List will help the Agency to prioritize conservation actions for some of the most threatened species in the emirate, which may include developing more systematic monitoring as well specie-specific conservation action plans in order to protect them Dr Javed added.”

He further explained how the Abu Dhabi Red List of Wildlife Species is an excellent example of capacity building, as assessments were undertaken by a team of scientists from the Agency’s Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector, with support from IUCNs Species Survival Commission (SSC) and Provita. As a result, this will help EAD in undertaking such assessments in future to evaluate the status of species, measure effectiveness of conservation actions taken and guide the Agency in effective decision making to protect threatened species.

Within one of the largest programmes for species' reintroduction in the world, EAD has undertaken some of the most ambitious and successful projects to reintroduce species that were on the brink of extinction such as the Arabian Oryx and Scimitar-horned Oryx, and Abu Dhabi now houses the largest herd of Arabian Oryx in the world. The Shaikh Zayed Network of 13 terrestrial and six marine protected areas, managed by the Agency, provides protection to some of the most threatened and important terrestrial and marine species and their habitats. Furthermore, EAD has a plant nursery with a production capacity of nearly 500,000 plants annually and has more than 70 different native plant species propagated to date. These plant species include many rare and threatened species and are used for habitat restoration efforts across the Emirate. EAD has successfully rehabilitated important plant species such as the Al Sarh, Ghaf and Samar trees in their natural habitat to ensure that they continue to remain part of the Emirate’s landscape and its cultural heritage.