By Vesela Todorova
The picturesque Wadi Wurayah has been temporarily closed to the public to allow its delicate ecosystem to recover.
A ceremony to close off the paved road to the waterfall and its mountain surroundings, a national park since 2009, was led by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, on Tuesday.
“As we move into the future we must protect our natural heritage for the good of our people,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “The park is a living and precious symbol of our respect for our past and our hopes for the future.”
One of the best examples of a permanent freshwater habitat in the UAE, the wadi is a sanctuary for rare animals such as the Arabian tahr, a type of mountain goat, and home to about 300 plant species.
The park will reopen the area for visitors after a management plan is designed and ecotourism infrastructure is in place.
“You never celebrate a closure but we are only closing to reopen later,” said Mohammed Afkham, managing director of Fujairah Municipality.
“We want to make this a better place, according to the international standards for eco-tourism and national parks.”
It has not yet been decided how long Wadi Wurayah will close but banning people will give it a much-needed chance to recover from the harm of human impact, said Ida Tillisch, director general of the Emirates Wildlife Society – World Wide Fund for Nature.
The society has been working with the municipality on conservation projects there since 2006.
“Human activity – chopping down vegetation, littering, even poaching – is incredibly difficult to control and it is always a big setback for what we are trying to do,” Mrs Tillisch said.
“The closure is now really important to put a dramatic stop to degradation, to let nature recover. We can spend our time properly cleaning up and putting in place measures to make the park safe but also to make the park accessible in a more controlled manner.” More....