UAE: $5.8m grant launched for saving endangered dugong and seagrass ecosystems

Mohammad Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund announces launch of grant during Global Communication Conference
Sami Zaatari Gulf News 22 May 16;

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Abu Dhabi: The Mohammad Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (MBZ Fund) on Sunday announced the launch of a $5.8 million (Dh21.30 million) grant to save the endangered dugong and its seagrass ecosystems across the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific.

The announcement of the grant was made at the Global Communication Conference, and coincided with International Day for Biological Diversity. As part of its initiative, the MBZ Fund also announced that it would be partnering with students from Zayed University and 16 other international universities to help raise awareness on the subject.

“The presence of dugong and seagrass in a marine ecosystem is a good indication that the ecosystem is healthy. Protecting these species and their environment is good for local communities because a healthy marine environment provides plentiful food, protects coasts from storm erosion and ensures clean seawater,” Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director of the MBZ Fund, said.

“The Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project, executed by the MBZ Fund, represents an unprecedented global investment in the conservation of these endangered species and contributes to Abu Dhabi’s already impressive track record of supporting environmental conservation efforts worldwide.

“Working with Zayed University students and their counterparts from different universities across the world gives the Fund the opportunity to tap into the insights of a digitally connected and environmentally aware generation,” she added.

Dr Frédéric Launay, board member and acting director-general at the MBZ Fund, speaking on the issue of creating awareness, said it was not easy and that it would take hard work to get the message across and people invested in the matter.

“This is a challenge — how to convey the needs to care and feel responsible for the fate of species and its ecosystem, in eight countries of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, with a wide array of culture, tradition, and language.

“It is a challenge to convince people to work together to save species that most people will never actually see in its environment. Saving species is a challenge that the MBZ Fund took eight years ago, at a time where species conservation and the people committed to it, were left alone. Today the Fund has supported more than 1300 projects in over 140 countries,” he added.

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