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UAE Date Palm Trees Can Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Tuesday, September 17, 2019/ Editor -  

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Satellite imagery is proving crucial in helping the environment, according to researchers at the United Arab Emirates University.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates -  September 17, 2019:   Dr Salem Issa, Principal Investigator of the “Geospatial Modelling For Carbon Sequestration In Palm-Tree Plantations: A Case Study From Abu Dhabi ” project, and associate professor of Remote Sensing and GIS (Geographical Information Systems), kicked off his research in the field in 2017 with his research team including a PhD student.

The major project, due to complete at the end of next year, focuses on using satellite imagery to estimate the amount of carbon sequestration in data palms, in accordance with government policies, in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions and carbon footprint in the UAE. 

“This space technology contributes to helping decision-makers find out how to balance carbon emissions through planting more date palm trees,” Dr Issa explained. “We found a lot – date palm trees in the UAE can capture up to 15.8 tons of carbon emissions per hectare per year. The tree is a sacred one in the country, it is actually used as part of the country’s heritage and culture, and it can also contribute to the reduction and sequestration of carbon.”

The UAE is among the top countries in the Arab region and the world in terms of number of date palm trees, reaching about 15 to 16 million trees planted in Abu Dhabi alone. “Everyone is talking about global warming and it is fuelled by the emission of carbon, which comes from burning fuels,” he said. “The country is oil productive, so it is by nature contributing to burning fuel and increasing carbon in the atmosphere. On the other hand, we are talking about one of the biggest countries in combatting desertification by planting millions of date palm trees every year, without the intention of reducing carbon, but it is a greening, anti-desertification and carbon-sequestration effort, which is very successful.”

Two papers have been published so far, one of which in the International Journal of Remote Sensing, a first-tier journal specializing in remote sensing. Dr Issa has also trained a number of undergraduate students and a PhD student, who will defend his piece next year. 

“We have other papers submitted for publication and we will submit two or three papers next year as a result of our project,” he added. “We have preliminary results and we are finalizing some of them. The final results will be published at the end of this year or beginning of next year.”

Dr Issa spoke of the importance of such a study as more date palm trees need to be planted as part of an environmental and sustainable effort. 
More awareness will also need to be raised among residents and decision-makers about the significance of such an effort. 

“There is a big objective, which is how we can transfer technology and implement the use of space related-technology data for the welfare of our society, as all of our work is based on space technology,” he concluded. “They are comprehensive, wide-range covering tools – we can scan the whole country in one image, and we can finish it in four to five months instead of four to five years. In the next step, we are moving towards introducing and using multi-scales, multi-sensors and multi-resolutions imagery to be able to go more in detail”.


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