Challenge #17 COVID-19 STYLE ~ Mangroves and Seagrass Beds


To keep our posts relevant we have updated the June theme and challenges to reflect the current situation. 

The original challenge is below.


Mangroves, by John Thompson

Read the blog post on the June 2020 Theme ~ HOLIDAYS COVID-19 STYLE

Over the past four weeks we have discussed biodiversity in Qatar on land and underwater. Mangroves and seagrass beds are vital support systems for many species. From protecting shorelines to providing important habitats and spawning areas for local fish like hamour, to much needed resting places and food sources for migratory and resident birds, mangroves and seagrass beds provide free ecological services that birds, turtles, dugongs, or fish, and humans depend on. 

In 2022 Qatar will host the first-ever carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup. Building brand-new football stadiums, a metro system and new roads and highways has resulted in a lot of embodied carbon emissions. Welcoming millions of fans for the mega sports event will add more emissions that require mitigation and offsetting to deliver carbon neutrality. 

Mangroves are very good at sequestering carbon – they store five to eight times more carbon than tropical or boreal forests. In fact, mangroves and seagrass beds are the most ecologically productive ecosystems in the world and have been recognized as important “blue (marine) carbon” sinks. Mangroves and seagrass beds could be significant assets for Qatar’s in-country carbon sequestration and off-setting projects as nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation. The carbon storage capacity of mangroves and seagrass beds depends on a number of ecological factors to yield the most impact.

“The best carbon storage system, natural or otherwise, is efficient at scrubbing carbon from the atmosphere and can store it for long (geologic) periods of time. The principle is simple and elegant. Through photosynthesis, plants absorb carbon dioxide and water to grow, giving off oxygen and locking atmospheric carbon in their roots, detritus and ultimately soil. This burial of carbon into the ground is the key to long term storage. This is true at sea as much as it is on land, yet marine carbon systems have been given less attention than their terrestrial counterparts. Mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass meadows, known collectively as “blue carbon systems,” cover 0.5% of the seabed but contain 50-70% of all carbon stored in ocean sediments.” Source: Counting blades of (sea) grass. 

Get started with these tips to invest into protecting Qatar’s mangrove forests and seagrass beds to support a carbon neutral 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar and celebrate biodiversity: 

  • Protect, conserve and restore mangrove forests and seagrass beds and promote their carbon sequestration, uptake and storage capacity as an economically viable option. 
  • Participate in beach cleaning events to remove debris and garbage to keep mangrove forests and the waters healthy and protect them against destruction.
  • Minimize plastic use, especially single-use plastic to reduce plastics ending up in oceans and threatening ingestion of plastics.
  • Help plant mangroves and seagrass beds to protect the feeding grounds for hamour and dugongs. The flowers of the mangrove trees are a rich source of nectar for bees, birds and insects.
  • Eliminate all toxic chemicals at home to reduce environmental pollutants reaching the sea. 
  • Participate in public awareness campaigns to protect dugongs and whale sharks as essential components of marine biodiversity in Qatar.

Sources


Challenge #17 ~ Staycation

Read the blog post on the June Theme ~ HOLIDAYS

photo by Kai-Henrik Barth

Imagine relaxing by the pool, reading a book, just day-dreaming, or enjoying a night on the beach under the stars, without having to step out too far. That’s right, staycations are increasingly popular as a great way to recharge and rejuvenate. It is less stressful, less expensive, and definitely much less taxing on our ecological footprint. Check out one of the many Doha hotels for attractive staycation packages!

When we choose to spend vacation time in Qatar we instantly eliminate the major travel stressor, air travel, and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with it. For example, traveling economy class to Rome, Italy (8,100 km) releases 1.5 tonnes of carbon or an equivalent of 129 full grown trees to offset that amount of carbon. Find out how much carbon you’ll save by taking a staycation with this climate calculator and how many trees it would take to offset a flight with this one.

We recognize that the heat is intense during the summer, but we still have some options in the wild. For an entirely new and refreshing perspective of Qatar explore the lush mangroves of Al Thakira by kayak through crystal-clear blue water at high tide. You can also visit Purple Island to pick some plastic bags and garbage from the otherwise pristine place, where you’ll be accompanied by birds, jumping silver fish, and heron crabs. You will want to time your visits to the beach for early morning or late afternoon and evening.

The heat of the summer provides a great opportunity to take in one of the many indoor activities in Doha.

  • Visit one of Doha’s Museums
  • Explore Doha’s many art galleries
    • The Qatar Museum Katara Galleries provides an intimate venue for public art projects in Katara Cultural Village.
    • The Katara Art Center is dedicated to contemporary art and trans-disciplinary creative endeavors, projects, and practices.
    • Fire Station Gallery is a creative space that allows emerging talent in Qatar to further their practice, research, and work.
    • Anima Gallery focuses on exhibitions, art consulting and execution.
    • At the Souq Waqif Art Center you can buy art directly from local artists (no commissions apply).
    • Salam Chernovol Art Gallery hosts a contemporary art collection and aims to promote talented contemporary artists who have yet to establish a profile on the international scene.
  • Enjoy summer entertainment
    • Many malls have family-friendly activities under the patronage of the National Tourism Council (NTC) as part of the Summer in Qatar programming.  
    • NTC also sponsors music and comedy festivals as well as tours of the various parts of Qatar.
    • For children, Doha offers various game parks that offer cool indoor entertainment
  • Visit Qatar Foundation’s Al Shaqab equestrian club of Arabian horses, renowned for the breeding, grooming, and training of its world champion Arabian horses.
  • Spend time exploring the Qatar National Library and discover its many resources and activities.

Developing responsible travel practices right here at home can be really exciting because we can explore and discover, learn, and contribute together to creating unique destinations in support of the spirit of a carbon-neutral 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar while protecting our fragile environments on land and underwater.

And our responsibility does not stop there. According to a 13 Jan 2019 Gulf Times story, “The Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) reported 345 environmental violations in 2018 and issued 900 warnings as part of its effort to put an end to such violations and to protect the environment.”  Developing responsible tourism in Qatar requires everyone’s effort and MME wants us to report violations immediately to 998. If you see something, say something.

Staycations give us an opportunity to enjoy Qatar with less people and traffic and to reduce our own environmental impact with the recently-launched Metro linking these attractions and growing numbers of responsible tourism sites for connectivity from our doorsteps. With the Metro system and the connecting bus network, even the stress of driving can be greatly reduced while hopping between the various cultural and entertainment venues.

This challenge supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, by using public transportation, and 13: Climate Action, by reducing emissions due to air travel.

Sources

  1. myclimate.org, Flight Calculator, Accessed 23 Jun 2019
  2. trees.org, Offset Your Carbon Footprint, Accessed 23 Jun 2019