Qatar Museums (QM) chairperson HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani has highlighted the importance of mangroves in keeping coastal communities around the globe safe and protected.
“Mangroves are rare, spectacular and prolific ecosystems on the boundary between land and sea. These extraordinary ecosystems contribute to the wellbeing, food security, and protection of coastal communities worldwide,” HE Sheikha Al Mayassa said in a tweet to mark World Mangrove Day or the International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.
In Qatar, mangroves are located in the north of the seaside city of Al Khor – Al Thakira
Mangroves, the only type of tree that can stand and grow in salty waters, serves as natural air filters, which can significantly sequestrate carbon emissions – one of the main causes of global warming.
According to Unesco, mangroves “support rich biodiversity and provide a valuable nursery habitat for fish and crustaceans. Mangroves also act as a form of natural coastal defense against storm surges, tsunamis, rising sea levels, and erosion.”
However, Unesco noted that mangroves continue to disappear “three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts. Current estimates indicate that mangrove coverage has been divided by two in the past 40 years.”
A view of Al Thakira mangroves
In Qatar, mangroves are located in the north of the seaside city of Al Khor – Al Thakira – and has become a popular destination due to its vast green scenery and kayaking activities.
In a bid to raise environmental awareness, various government and non-governmental organisations, as well as volunteer groups and expatriate communities, regularly hold beach cleanup drives in Al Thakira to help protect the mangroves and the place’s natural beauty.
The place draws many visitors who want to see flocks of pink flamingos during the cold months between November and April, according to Visit Qatar, the official social media tourism account of the Qatar National Tourism Council.
Al Thakira mangroves are a popular destination due to its vast green scenery and kayaking activities
“They come in droves around the wet season, when algae and rare species of birds are abundantly available, making this the best time for sightings,” Visit Qatar posted on its social media pages.
Apart from its stunning natural landscapes, Al Thakira also offers “an abundant marine life and crystal waters” – a great place for visitors to relax and spend their weekend or free time to do an array of activities such as sailing, fishing, canoeing, water-skiing, and kitesurfing, among others.
Al Thakira mangroves have been attracting different kinds of migratory birds from Europe in the cold season, and are visited by many bird lovers, photographers, and enthusiasts every year.