November 2012 marked a significant milestone for the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) with the initiation of the one-year long Abu Dhabi Blue Carbon Demonstration Project. With the vision and direction from His Highness the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the environment has become an intrinsic part of the heritage and traditions of the people of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This national affinity to the sea led to the initiation of the Blue Carbon Project, with the aim of exploring the values coastal and marine ecosystems provide in the UAE, and to help preserve the Emirate’s environment and cultural heritage.
Following the success of the project and with the support of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), AGEDI launched the second phase of the project in September 2014, expanding the science to the Northern and Eastern Emirates and to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, and extending the understanding and valuation aspects of coastal blue carbon ecosystem services. For this national study, standard field and analytical approaches were used to enable comparison with a growing global dataset on carbon stocks within coastal ecosystems. The investigation provided a baseline assessment of carbon stocks at 10 mangroves and one algal flat of the Northern and Eastern Emirates – perhaps the largest carbon stocks of the UAE. This extended to a total of 57 sites sampled in the UAE, representing natural mangroves, planted mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and algal mats. These new data points in the Northern and Eastern Emirates, soon to be published in AGEDI’s National Final Report, will provide an important baseline for the overall national Blue Carbon account for the UAE.