Conserving the tree of the dunes

During long, dry periods, when much of the ground vegetation is dormant, the Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) spreads out its lush canopy often laden with flower and fruit.

This tree is one great survivor! Fierce temperatures, searing winds, high rates of water loss…the Ghaf tolerates them all. A multipurpose tree of arid lands that is considered a solution to desertification, the Ghaf stabilizes dunes while it improves soil. What is more, it propagates itself by providing new shoots from parent root systems. Identified with Arab tradition, it is not surprising that Ghaf finds a place in folklore.

Today, however, the Ghaf is being over-lopped and over-grazed to destruction. Ghaf groves are succumbing to urbanization and rapid infrastructure development.

“Scientists have long believed that Ghaf trees in the UAE be declared National Monuments and be protected in light of their cultural, aesthetical and ecological significance to the UAE. Without such measures, the specie’s continued survival in the wild is questionable,” says Razan Al Mubarak, managing director of the Emirates Wildlife Society, an associate of the WWF – UAE.