In recent years, the United Arab Emirates has supported several activities regarding soil including soil mapping, soil salinity and management research, soil classification, soil agriculture suitability, and the International Conference on Soil Classification and Reclamation of Degraded Lands in Arid Environments (year 2010).
Part of it, the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) have worked on a soil mapping project in the UAE, which has been integrated into the UAE Soil Information System (UAESIS). The UAESIS is a tool for decision makers to make informed decisions on land use planning. This is important for maximizing the benefits from the scarce land resources of the UAE. UAESIS contains over twenty different detailed maps, including soil maps, soil salinity maps, and irrigated agriculture suitability maps. The UAESIS is accessible free of charge through the website on the following address: www.uaesis.ae.
Dr. Shabbir Shahid, soil scientist at ICBA, is one of the key members of the team that worked on the soil maps in the UAE. “The SIS system in the UAE is amongst the most advanced and exhaustive systems currently available worldwide”, states Dr. Shahid. “The investment made by EAD on this project is expected to bring multiple benefits in terms of national land development. I encourage decision makers from both the public and private sectors to take advantage of this rare and valuable resource.”
When asked about ICBA’s soil initiatives, Dr. Ismahane Elouafi, Director General of ICBA, said, “ICBA has been at the forefront of soil research over the past 14 years, working with saline and marginal soils, soil management, and soil mapping. ICBA’s work on soil has earned it the trust of key regional decision makers who retained the services of the Center in various soil related projects. ICBA’s work on soil is closely integrated with its wider research on agriculture in marginal environments.”
Dr. Elouafi added, “ICBA is proud to be a member of Global Soil Partnership (GSP) that is managed by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Along with GSP, ICBA is celebrating World Soil Day 2013 on 5 December 2013, in ICBA Dubai campus.”
ICBA’s work addresses the closely linked challenges of water, environment, income, and food security. The Center’s applied research for development aims to address the agricultural challenges in marginal environments including assessment of natural resources, climate change adaptation, crop productivity and diversification, aquaculture and bio-energy and policy analysis. ICBA is working on a number of technology developments including the use of conventional and non-conventional water (such as saline, treated wastewater, industrial water, agricultural drainage, and seawater); water and land management technologies and remote sensing and modeling for climate change adaptation. Building capacity and sharing knowledge is an important part of all ICBA does. ICBA’s work reaches countries, including least developed countries, in Central Asia and the Caucasus, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), South and South East Asia, sub Saharan Africa and Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
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