It’s a very rural scene tucked away on the outskirts of Manama, a remnant of the past which, were it historical buildings or an archeological site, its future would most probably be assured. However it is neither so it has been left to the purveyors of coloured pencils, the physical planners to decide it’s future, their answer total obliteration. I am talking about the Manama Greenbelt around Adhari Park.
This is not just any old piece of the greenbelt but the home of the once mighty Adhari pool, once part of the green oasis that gave Bahrain its name. It still survives, still has that fundamental essence that makes it core to the nations identity and is partially responsible for the story behind the name Bahrain “The land of Two Seas”. It is as much part of the history of Ancient Dilmun and of Awal as any line of preserved archaic stones in the dirt.
The area in question is an historic area of old, very old farmland and date plantations some pockets still intensively farmed but largely the area is a shadow of that former natural glory. It was an area that was once all fertile gardens with open free flowing sweet water springs (one of the historic seas) that fed huge irrigation ditches many of which still exist but sadly, now these ditches and the fertile land they nourished, are largely ignored, left to slowly decay through a policy of purposeful abandonment. It is now an area unwanted it seems by many owners and the state alike in its present form. For the planners the area appears to be an aberration, caught in a time warp? However I ask can they justify a scenario where there is no longer a need for rural spaces in urban areas, especially one designated years ago before Sustainable Development became fashionable buzzwords. Where has the vision of 2030 gone? I find it hard to believe this part of the Manama greenbelt has outlived its usefulness, simply because it has become a burden on those responsible, because people cannot see the wood from the trees, cannot live with the colour green on their plans, instead need to use all the others. Are they prettier colours because they represent change to a future that is made from concrete, bricks, tarmac and mortar? The planners obviously don’t have colours that represent quality of life, natural resources, preservation and natural heritage. They certainly have no colour that represents lateral thinking or alternatives. And yes there are alternative but then its acceptance would mean a radical change in the direction of peoples thinking, of changing sustainable development to one representative of sustainable preservation.
This section of Greenbelt is unique; it represents nearly all that is left of Bahrain's undeveloped agricultural land, it is part of the countries natural heritage. Nowhere else now retains such a high density of sweet water ditches that maintain such a blend of palm plantations, vegetable and fruit gardens along with animal husbandry. Besides, indirectly by virtue of the abandoned parcels of still fertile agricultural land, a huge wildlife reserve of bog reed open water and scrub. The whole area could, given goodwill be easily restored, reinvented as a natural park, a resource as worthy as the Hawar Islands for preservation, a natural equivalent to Muharraq and the Bahrain fort. It is a wonderful natural resource, other than desert species all other species of bird mammal and reptile have representative breeding in the area. For migrating bird species it is unbelievable with over two hundred species of bird recorded in its environs. There is nowhere else left in the country that has such a density of wildlife resources. Its loss to future generations would be catastrophic, we have already lost too much, it is simply now irreplaceable.
I would like to draw peoples attention to a great funding opportunity for those working in the developing world particularily in areas where development and conservation issues clash. The Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa UN-HABITAT Award was established in 2007 by His Royal Highness Shaikh Khalifa in collaboration with UN-HABITAT to promote pro-poor housing and sustainable urban development. So if you work in -- Urban poverty reduction including job creation and local economic development; Development of innovative affordable housing supply systems including slum improvement, slum prevention, access to land, housing finance, real estate management and basic services; Urban environmental management including climate change mitigation and adaptation; Urban governance including de-centralization and the strengthening of local authorities; Gender equality and social inclusion including economic empowerment of women and the youth and their universal access to water, sanitation, health, education and political participation; Effective public-private partnerships in urban development with a focus on poverty reduction, it could be worth the effort of making a submission for the award.
Often solutions to housing, employment and social needs for instance around game reserve and National parks can be found through the empowerment of local people and their involvement in managment issues. Money or a lack is a key issue, thus have a look at the following link http://bahrainexcellence.org/Unhabitat it just could help. Closing date for submission for the 3rd cycle of the award to be presented at the WUF6 in 2012 is June 30th.
From The Gulf Daily News
Posted on » Monday, June 21, 2010
Bahrain to sign convention
BAHRAIN is all set to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), it was declared yesterday.
All legal, operational and logistical issues have been completed and a resolution will be passed soon by the Cabinet, said Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife director-general Dr Adel Al Zayani.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a five-day training workshop held as part of Bahrain's responsibility towards CITES. Dr Al Zayani said after the move there would only be three other countries in the Middle East that would remain non-signatories - Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine. "We should have signed much earlier, but there were several issues," he told the GDN. "It was not that we did not want to sign, it was because we needed time to get our act together by ensuring all internal issues had been sorted out and co-ordinated."
The event is organised by the commission, the United Nations Environment Programme's West Asia Regional Office (UNEP-ROWA) and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. It is being held under the patronage of commission head Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa. "In Bahrain, we are already protecting our endangered species and have protected areas, but we will be able to better manage the import of all endangered species of animals," said Dr Al Zayani. He said there was no such thing as completely ending a trade in endangered animals. "However, we will try and maximise our reach and stamp out the practice from Bahrain," said Dr Al Zayani.
Laws, he added, were in force in Bahrain but needed to be further toughened. "Offenders get away far too easily because we do not have the tough laws and stringent punishment needed." Dr Al Zayani said in some cases, offenders might get away with a warning or a fine of around BD50. "We have to have stricter and tougher implementation if we want to make a mark," he said. One of the major challenges in Bahrain is that imported animals tend to reproduce and spread in the community, said Dr Al Zayani. "There is a real danger to the country's biodiversity if that happens. That is a concern we are discussing," he said.
Dr Al Zayani said several officials from the Interior Ministry's Customs Directorate were attending the workshop, where they will be made aware of the rules governing CITES. "Municipal and Industry and Commerce Ministry officials among others were also provided with detailed guidelines, names and pictures of endangered species," he said. He said teams of officials would also periodically conduct raids at the Isa Town market, where such animals were reportedly being sold. We have to try and link all authorities concerned and come up with a plan."
CITES is an international agreement between governments, drafted following a resolution adopted in 1963 at a meeting of members of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It entered into force in 1975 with the aim to ensure international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. The convention accords varying degrees of protection to more than 33,000 species of animals and plants.
My letter to the local press
A wildlife wake-up call to authorities(link)
Posted on » Saturday, May 22, 2010
Every time I go out bird watching I am never certain that I will still find my intended destination intact. The rate of change and the sheer negligence of the so-called concerned authorities here constantly astonish me. Trees uprooted, natural vegetation cleared, ditches filled, green spaces bulldozed flat, let alone more garbage than one can imagine thrown in the sea. It is always a surprise to me that Bahrain has any wildlife left worthy of note but of that which does survive, I often wonder for just how much longer.
Every day we read of some so-called green programme; recycling a tin can is not green, it's common sense. May I suggest instead therefore, people should start to worry about just respecting and protecting the few natural green areas we have left and the wildlife that use them?
What sort of world are we leaving for future generations when as the current tenants of this planet, we are determined to destroy every vestige of our wonderful natural world?
In Bahrain being green is the wrong colour to illustrate one's affinity to nature. Take a closer look at a brown and twisted twig on a desert bush. It has probably survived longer than you so as you flatten it with your 4x4, think optimistically as you destroy a hundred years of plant growth.
It's a sad reflection on Bahrain, which as a signatory to many international treaties and agreements, allows or rather turns a blind eye to, for instance, the capture, sale and mistreatment of animals and birds classified as vulnerable or highly endangered globally.
To me all native Bahrain species should be on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List as well as those migratory ones. Bahrain is an island for those that hadn't noticed through a lack of access to the sea all the way around, but this does make the native species all the more important; it provides a unique gene pool.
This photograph is of a Lesser Kestrel, a migratory species, I found recently hanging dead on a fence not far from Al Areen Wildlife Park, that had been caught for sale in a local bird market for a few dinars. It had escaped but not before it had a fishing line attached as a tether to one leg which had then become entangled in the fence causing the bird to die a slow and lingering death.
To the so-called concerned authorities I say start getting off your backsides and get out there, apply the laws you have. Make a difference, the current generation might not thank you but future ones most definitely will.
Email me at
hmking.pmc at gmail
added June 4 2010