UAE: Sustainability at the heart of the Etihad Rail network – News
Official says partnership with EAD resulted in implementation of sustainable environmental management during 1,200 km project
By taking proactive measures, Etihad Rail and Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has ensured the highest sustainability standards in the construction of the UAE’s national rail network, a senior official said.
On the occasion of World Environment Day, Khuloud Al Mazrouei, Deputy Project Manager at Etihad Rail, said that the partnership with EAD has resulted in the implementation of sustainable environmental management during planning and construction of the 1,200 km rail project. While the first stage of the network has been operational since 2016, the second stage is more than 75% complete.
“Since the early stages of the project, we have collaborated on a range of initiatives, including habitat conservation, animal protection and the replanting of trees and shrubs in Abu Dhabi, conserving the pristine natural heritage and diverse of the United Arab Emirates. We have assigned a dedicated team of environmental impact assessment specialists, ecologists, air and noise scientists, and forestry specialists to manage the complex environmental study review process for the project. Together, we conducted extensive studies to understand the pathways of species movement along the construction route of the project. Habitat surveys have also been conducted, in line with our shared priority to protect and conserve Abu Dhabi’s pristine natural heritage,” Al Mazrouei said while explaining the range of initiatives taken to assess the natural habitats of Abu Dhabi. wildlife and environmental impact.
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Etihad Rail is the developer and operator of the rail network, which is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the United Arab Emirates, and spans all seven emirates, from Abu Dhabi to the port of Fujairah to the east, connecting to the GCC via the UAE border with Saudi Arabia to the west.
Etihad Rail and EAD carried out detailed environmental baseline studies for the project’s terrestrial ecology which assessed species such as gazelles and dhub lizards, and their habitats along the railway line to identify their natural corridors . “We have actively relocated native and high-value trees such as Sidr and date palms, with over 550 Ghaf trees successfully transferred and another 590 trees planted. Additionally, we are constructing wildlife corridors along the project approximately 1,200 km in length and integrating 95 wildlife crossings and culverts across the project.
Implementing the highest environmental standards and preserving the diverse natural heritage of the United Arab Emirates, the animals were transported from the Misanad Nature Reserve, through which the planned national railway route passes, to other suitable and protected habitats.
“Misanad Nature Reserve is home to a range of wildlife including snakes, Cheeseman’s gerbils, scorpions and pigeons. Also, the rare and endangered Persian gecko, which is one of the most colorful types of gecko found in the UAE, resides in the Misanad Nature Reserve. Etihad Rail has now relocated over 300 animals, including 242 Middle Eastern short-toed geckos, 24 Baloch geckos, five saw-faced vipers and others. We have also incorporated the design and construction of culverts and wildlife crossings that allow animals to move safely under the track.
Al Mazrouei stressed that all necessary precautionary measures have been taken in case of an unexpected spill.
“At Etihad Rail, we make sure to take all the necessary precautions, in agreement with our partners and subcontractors. Spill contingency plans are covered as part of EAD’s licensing procedures.
Several measures are in place to strengthen environmental protection, ensure the free movement of wildlife and prevent animal accidents.
“All Etihad Rail corridors and right-of-way facilities are separated by various types of fencing, including boundary, sand mitigation, security, glare and military fencing. The installation of fencing ensures a secure environment for the rail network, ensuring the safety and maintenance of rail corridors during operations while providing a safe and well-maintained environment for people and wildlife in surrounding areas. Stage one level crossings, including railway bridges, highway bridges and underpasses, are permanently present along the railway route at least every six to seven kilometres, but this will change drastically when the alignments of the network will approach suburban and urban settlements,” Al Mazrouei noted.
“Etihad Rail is constantly exploring the need for new structures and is committed to building more, when and where needed, to ensure minimal environmental impact.”