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Fujairah project to promote eco-tourism

Wadi Wurayah was established as the first protected mountain area of the country in March 2009. (SUPPLIED)

By Reena Amos Dyes

There are plans to promote eco-tourism in Fujairah's protected Wadi Wurayah and a management board called Wadi Wurayah Majilis is being set up to examine and supervise the developments in the area.

Four years ago, the Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF) and the Fujairah Municipality initiated the Wadi Wurayah project to establish a sustainable protected area integrating local tradition and lifestyle with the conservation of biodiversity and habitat by providing a model of unique economic incentives to the region.

The main goal was to assist the Fujairah Municipality and the Government of Fujairah to create and manage a mountain protected area.

Then in March 2009, Wadi Wurayah in Fujairah was established as the first protected mountain area of the country, in order to protect fresh water springs, pools and streams that provide its unique wildlife with a renewable and safe drinking resource. Now they are taking things forward.

Christophe Tourenq, Science and Research Manager, EWS-WWF, told Emirates Business: "The current developments in Wadi Wurayah are mostly to put in place the adequate management structure to ensure active protection of the natural and cultural resources of the area and deliver a unique model of how environment conservation can be economically viable, which would be a first in the UAE.

"The current zoning of the protected area includes an 'eco-tourism zone' that will be devoted to access to public, camping and picnicking. It will also include recreational activities integrated in the protected area environment. This means that it will not cause disturbance, destruction and overexploitation of natural and cultural resources of the Wadi Wurayah Protected Area and provide benefits to local communities.

"There will also be establishment and operation of eco-tourism and education facilities (visitor centre, rangers offices) that will not be detrimental to the special or unique values of the area.

"For this reason there will be limited development integrated in the environment (sustainable and using local architecture), that will not cause disturbance, destruction and overexploitation of natural and cultural resources of the protected area and that will provide benefits to local communities.

"Wadi Wurayah Protected Area will have structures built with local materials that are integrated with the environment and a testimony to the unique skills and techniques of the region. Some examples of such architecture can be seen in Wadi Helio in Sharjah and in Musandam, Oman."

Since December 29, 2007, the UAE has been included in the Ramsar convention, which is an inter-governmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

The Fujairah Municipality has submitted Wadi Wurayah as the second Ramsar site of UAE after Ras al Khor in Dubai. The listing of Wadi Wurayah as UAE Ramsar site will elevate it to a higher status (recognised as a place of international importance) and will bring more attention to it. Till that happens, the phase two of the protection project will ensure that the ecological character of the site will be maintained.


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