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Challenges facing biodiversity in the United Arab Emirates

Christophe Tourenq (Emirates Wildlife Society – World Wide Fund for Nature‐UAE Project Office, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Frédéric Launay (Environment Agency‐Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)

Management of Environmental Quality

ISSN: 1477-7835

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




The purpose of the paper is to show that the Arabian Peninsula, and the United Arab Emirates in particular, has not been spared by the trends of biodiversity loss observed on the world scale. The authors aim to present a rapid review of the challenges facing the biodiversity in the UAE and the solutions that this young country proposes to counteract the erosion of its biodiversity.


The authors gathered and compiled published and unpublished information from governmental and non‐governmental sources.


Despite being regarded as a vast desertic and unfertile area with one of the lowest human populations in the world, the UAE hosts a unique and remarkably adapted fauna and flora. Adding to natural causes (drought), the main threats facing biodiversity identified were: coastal development and urbanisation, as well as over‐exploitation of natural resources (fishing, hunting, grazing and water extraction) that are linked with the tremendous population increase and changes in lifestyle. Traditional systems of resource management in the UAE have been abandoned. Over the last few decades, the UAE has lost most of its big fauna and is witnessing the remaining Arabian leopard, Mountain Gazelle, Arabian Tahr, Arabian Sailfish, groupers and shark populations at the brink of extinction.


The paper proposes the inclusion of environmental issues in the development planning (with proper environment impact assessments), the involvement of local communities in the decision making and the improvement of federal and international trans‐boundaries collaborations. Highlights that an urgent step would be the implementation of integrated costal management zoning to stop the current extent of coastal development that contributes through physical alteration of habitats to the disappearance of key resources and habitats.



Tourenq, C. and Launay, F. (2008), "Challenges facing biodiversity in the United Arab Emirates", Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 283-304.



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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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