The Sultanate of Oman has been planting thousands of mangrove seedlings over the past several years as part of the leadership’s efforts to restore natural habitat. The dense vegetation of the mangrove forests provides nutrients and shelter for fish, crayfish and birds.
From the beginning of this year, a campaign has been on to plant hundreds of thousands of mangrove saplings in the Wilayat of Musannah in South Al Batinah Governorate, said the Environment Authority.
The campaign is part of the National Initiative project to plant 10 million trees, with the aim of preserving and rehabilitating ecosystems and their components to create a sound environmental balance.
Mangroves are one of the main components of the Omani marine environment. One species of the green trees growing in the sea are black mangroves – also called Avicenia Marina or Qurm in Arabic. These are one of the few trees which can live in salty conditions.
They prefer bays such as those at Al Khiran, as well as lagoons such as those in Qurum in Muscat. The mangrove woodland in Al Khiran is one of the largest in the area.
The government has been protecting existing mangroves, and organizing, coordinating and implementing the planting of seedlings, and conducting awareness-raising campaigns across the country.
The Department of Marine Environment Conservation, in coordination with the Environment Department in South Al Batinah Governorate, implemented a campaign during which 2,400 mangrove saplings were planted in Khor Al Quraim in the Wilayat of Musannah last week, to compliment the efforts made in implementing the National Initiative to plant 10 million trees.
In May, more than 1,000 mangrove saplings were planted by the Environment Authority in Khor Al Arqoub in the Wilayat of Mahout.
Over the years people have become more aware of the value and importance of mangrove ecosystems, and have increasingly participated in mangrove seedling plantation efforts. Historical and archeological evidence indicates that dense mangrove woodlands covered much of Oman's coastline and islands in ancient times.
The total area covered by the Avicenna trees in the Sultanate of about 1,030 hectares, and in order to preserve those trees, the cultivation project of the Avicenna was launched in April 2000, through the establishment of 4 plant nurseries in different provinces, and the cultivation of more than 600 thousand seedlings until the end of 2018.
Local communities up and down the coast will benefit as they gradually get back the healthy ecosystems they had lost over past decades. Mangroves are breeding grounds for many fish species and other fauna, and also soak up carbon dioxide, thus contributing to mitigating the impact of greenhouse gas emissions.
They protect the shore from coastal erosion. Mangrove boardwalks can also be a tourist attraction, bringing in additional income to locals.
Several field surveys were conducted to determine the success of the aquaculture project, noting that there is an increase in the green areas of the mangrove and biodiversity. These trees are highly efficient for storing carbon, and are a habitat that attracts large numbers of endemic and migratory birds.