As part of its efforts to combat climate change, the Sultanate of Oman is reviving mangrove planting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
In a muddy wetland in the Omani capital, environmental scientist Zakia Al-Afifi measures the bark of a mangrove tree and estimates its ability to absorb carbon dioxide, which is causing the planet’s temperature to slowly rise. Standing in the mangrove reserve, which has dense trees protecting it from the scorching sun, she said that the 80-hectare mangrove forest could trap thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, reports Al-Rai daily.
“Mangroves are the richest carbon sink in the world,” Al-Afifi added, wearing boots and a white coat as she led a group of university students around the swamp.
If coastal trees and shrubs become part of efforts to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide, oil-producing Oman, located in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula, will lead the way in this region rich in hydrocarbon resources.
Inspired by its late ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, an environmental conservationist, the Sultanate, with a population of 4.5 million people, has become a center in the Gulf for mangrove restoration and preservation.
Mangroves can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at a faster rate than forests and store it in their soil and sediments for longer periods. Al-Afifi (41 years old) said, “Mangroves are considered one of the natural solutions to combat climate change.” She added that up to 80 tons of carbon dioxide per hectare could be stored in the mangroves’ above-ground biomass, and even more in the muddy sediments below.
Oman is moving quickly in its project to revive the forests that once covered the country, but which became extinct thousands of years ago due to climate change. The reason for its rapid pace is recent human-induced climate change, much of it resulting from the burning of fossil fuels, which threatens to destroy mangroves with rising temperatures, floods and hurricanes.
“If we do not reclaim more forests, this means that we may lose them one day due to climate change,” Al-Afifi said.
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