Wednesday 27 June 2012

Khor Kalba, United Arab Emirates

Just outside Kalba on the UAE's east coast is the country's last remaining natural mangrove forest. It is home to rare crustacea, mammals and birds including the only endemic sub-species of bird found in the UAE, the Arabian collared kingfisher (Todithamphus chloris kalbaensis). There are only forty or so pairs remaining and numbers have plummeted in the past few years. It is also the only place in the country to find Syke's warbler (Iduna rama) which number no more than fifteen pairs.

In recent months 4WD's have been banned from the beach because of the damage they have caused to the sand dunes. But a bigger threat is looming. Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Sharooq) is planning a $300 million eco-resort on adjacent land to be constructed over the next 6 years. They have promised to be sensitive to the local environment.

Mangroves are hyper sensitive to water levels, a rise in levels can drown them and a fall can dry them out. Without protection the adjacent construction could change the levels in both the long term and short term through pumping and the pressure 'bulbs' formed by foundation works.

Only time will tell if the developer's keep their word.

Arabian collared kingfisher

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