Abdulaziz Al Midfa, a well known environmental expert with extensive experience in wildlife and conservation, spoke in a free lecture organized by Emirates Environmental Group (EEG). This was the 150th such open to-all-lecture put together by EEG, having started this tradition in 1992. The monthly lectures are always delivered by people with established knowledge and proven track experience in environment and sustainability related fields; and has always been a key tool for expanding knowledge and understanding about environment and a whole gamut of related issues. They are at the core of EEG’s work to equip the community with accurate and up to date information; and drive responsibility among the general public.
The May lecture was entitled, “Wonderful Wildlife” and drew attention to the state of wildlife globally and locally. Legally, ‘Wildlife’ is categorised as all living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human nor domesticated, they are not considered human property and therefore human beings cannot exert control and domination over them. Unfortunately human beings have done little to acknowledge the centrality of wildlife protection in ensuring the health of ecosystems; - to which our own long term survival is intrinsically linked. The most significant challenges before Wildlife are poaching and hunting; local and global trade of wildlife and wildlife parts including illegal traffic; unsustainable resource extraction (e.g illegal logging); human encroachment and commercial activity (changes in land use causing habitat degradation); Climate Change and Pollution, and also invasive species that take over endemic species. According to the UNEP Global Environment Outlook or GEO5, over 100 million hectares of forest was lost from 2000-2005; 20% of seagrass and mangrove habitats were lost; 95% of wetlands in some regions were lost, and the rate of decline of coral reefs since 1990 stands at 38%. Mr. Al Midfa explained why protecting wildlife is an imperative that nations can no longer ignore; and the benefits of conservation in terms of economic and scientific gains and positive impact on people. He spoke about some of the conservation initiatives that stand out, including those that have been undertaken locally.
The lecture was opened by EEG’s Chairperson Habiba Al Marashi, who welcomed guests and gave them a brief update on EEG’s activities. She informed the audience about the significance of the upcoming World Environment Day on June 5, and the powerful message for this year’s WED termed ‘Think, Eat, Save’; based on a global campaign on ending food loss and waste. Mrs. Al Marashi noted that EEG has been lending support to international campaigns and drives on the Environment, including many for a range of multi-sector, multi-lateral entities such as UN, IUCN, etc. In 2013 EEG will keep to this tradition and organize its annual prize giving ceremony on June 5. In the event, winners and participants of EEG’s eight Recycling Campaigns, and the winners of the Environmental Drawing Competition will be officially recognized by the Group. The EEG Chair also said a few words on the importance of the topic of the talk, and thanked the speaker and event supporters Dubai Customs, Abela & Co. and Crystal Gallery.