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UAE mangrove restoration project to be global template

UAE mangrove project Abu Dhabi Jubail Island
Mangroves being grown on Jubail Island in Abu Dhabi: UK company Dendra will use drones to plant and monitor 27 million such seedlings
  • Aim for 27 million mangroves by 2030
  • Dendra is backed by ADQ
  • A hectare of mangrove stores half a tonne of carbon

A project to restore mangroves around Abu Dhabi will be used as a template and exported around the world.

Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and environmental tech company Dendra are working to plant 27 million mangroves in the UAE capital by 2030, in partnership with the emirate’s sovereign wealth fund ADQ.

It makes up almost a third of the overall 100 million target set by the UAE by the end of the decade.

“The interest is not just to get involved in the projects here but it’s also to leverage the projects here as a blueprint for global expansion and to really use the UAE and what we’re building here as a centre of excellence,” said Susan Graham, CEO of Dendra.

Dendra employs drone technology to map out the land, before using data to establish the best plants to use.

Once done, another drone deploys seeds over the land at a rate of 120 seeds per minute or about 150 times faster than traditional methods.

Following the assessment and the planting of the area, aerial monitoring and field surveys will be conducted to better understand the rates of germination and determine success. 

Surveys will be carried out every four weeks for three months, then quarterly for the first year, followed by annual monitoring, explained Graham.

The collaboration will also include additional remote sensing surveys to support current knowledge on mangroves, mangrove sites and potential restoration sites and efforts. 

This includes the monitoring of 20,000 hectares to obtain red, green and blue sensor and multispectral data via drone.

The partnership comes under the umbrella of the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative , supporting the emirate’s climate change strategy.

Natural carbon capture

Mangrove forests are among the most efficient natural systems at absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. 

Studies by Environment Agency Abu Dhabi revealed the ability of mangroves in Abu Dhabi to store carbon at a rate of 0.5 tonnes per hectare annually. This is equivalent to 8,750 tonnes at emirate level and to the energy consumption of 1,000 homes per year.

“Mangroves are such a critical ecosystem globally and the reason they’re so important is for climate globally and for the environment locally,” said Graham.

Dendra, which is based in the UK, previously completed a $10 million Series A funding round in 2020. This included investment from UAE-based VentureSouq. The company currently has a Series B round open for further investment.