Wetland Monitoring Workshop in Dubai 5-9 November 2017

Dubai Municipality, Environment Department - Natural Resources Conservation Section in collaboration with Tour du Valat and the Horizon-2020 SWOS project (Satellite-based Wetland Observation Service) organised a workshop on wetlands monitoring between 5-9th of November 2017. The workshop was attended by around 60 experts from United Arab Emirates “UAE” and GCC countries working in wetland management and remote sensing field from governmental, academic institutions and corporate.

The aim of the workshop was to enhance the level of the experience of the participants on developing and implementing monitoring plans for wetlands ecosystem.

During the workshop the participants addressed site based issues, integration of Earth Observation (EO) Data for the assessment of wetlands status and trends and implementation of monitoring plans using practical example of Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary – a wetland of international importance and the first Ramsar site in the UAE. The workshop included a field trip to Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary, which gave participants a hands-on experience of identifying the site’s ecological character and an opportunity to implement monitoring techniques learned from the workshop. Additionally, by the end of this workshop, the participants had also the opportunity to use the new EO-based software for wetlands mapping using satellite images (GEOclassifier), developed in the frame of the SWOS project.

In 2007, Dubai was the first emirate to list Ras Al Khor as the first wetland of international importance according to the Ramsar Convention and now UAE has the highest number of Ramsar sites between the Arabic countries in West Asia with 7 sites distributed in five emirates (among these sites, four of them will be monitored using EO-based SWOS tools and all maps and indicators will be integrated in the SWOS geoportal).

In the UAE, wetland ecosystems are given a high importance regarding the management of natural resources. In this frame, Dubai is not only contributing to their conservation at the local scale, but also globally since Ramsar COP13 will be held in Dubai in October 2018.

After 10 years from listing the first wetland of international importance in Dubai, the plan is to advance the management planning implementation and establish a robust monitoring plans and indicators to maintain the ecological characters of the site including various economic, environmental and social services wetlands provide.