Terrestrial environment - of Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates
This paper describes Abu Dhabi’s rich and diverse natural habits and the wide range of plant and animal species that thrive in them. In spite of its harsh physical conditions, characterized by exceedingly high temperatures, minimal rainfall, persistent drying winds and rocky, sandy, saline soils, Abu Dhabi is still home to approximately 400 species of vascular plants, 50 species of mammals, 416 bird species, 55 species of reptiles, and between 4,000 and 5,000 species of invertebrates. These plants and animals co-exist in a range of natural and man-made habitats that include coastal and inland sabkha (salt ﬂ ats), sand seas and dunes, mountains and wadis and freshwater oases, several of which are unique to the region. In addition to the natural beauty and beneﬁ ts inherent in rich biodiversity, Abu Dhabi’s ﬂ ora and fauna are valued for a range of social and economic uses in, for example, medicine, cultural ceremonies and tourism and recreation. However, in common with most of the world’s developed states, and especially in those that are growing as rapidly as Abu Dhabi, the health and viability of certain elements of the emirate’s natural terrestrial environment are under strong and increasing threat of being altered, damaged and, in some extreme cases, irreversibly destroyed.