According to Orr (2008), Al-Dhakira Mangrove forest covers an area of 4 kilometer of the coast from south to north, and about 2 kilometers at the farthest points, from east to west. The specific site of the project is located just opposite Al-Dhakira town. He notes that the ecosystem has dense mangrove Avicennia marina, mudflats, especially, those which are broad in nature, and finally the salt-marsh vegetation. The bay is surrounded by a spit right from the open sea up to the east, which has offered it a kind of natural protection. Its long drift runs from the north to the south. Additionally, it has a good spawning and nursery area which has been utilized economically for rearing some valuable fish and even the shrimp stocks. The area, therefore, supports artificial fishing, while also providing grazing land, especially to camels which feed on the mangroves.
Orr (2008) further indicates that Al-Dhakira is part of the Qatar Peninsula which is mainly flat and looks like a stony desert. Qatar is among the areas in the region with the very harsh climates. It is normally extremely dry and receives a very low annual rainfall which is usually less than 130 mm. The area has long summers which are mostly hot and of high humidity. Its winters, on the other hand, are normally cool during the day, while it is freezing during the night. Being a desert, its temperature ranges from 23oC to 35oC during cold and warm seasons respectively.
Spalding, Kainuma & Collins (2010) argue that with the extreme climatic conditions in this area, it has not been easy for vegetation to thrive. They are not even where there is soil widespread, but they are normally extremely shallow and mostly made of sandy loams which are often overlaid with varying sizes of rock debris. This type of soil cannot allow the people in the area to practice agriculture. Equally there is limited possibility of the growth of natural vegetation and wildlife with just some scattered vegetation to the North. Its wetlands are majorly marine and coastal. It is, therefore, the mangrove trees that live on salty water and can survive in this harsh climate. This has also been the case, especially in the areas surrounding the coast where Al-Dhakira, the east coast, is covered with a widespread of mangroves. However, Orr (2008) notes that the area has only one species of mangrove, which has been described as the black mangrove or the Avicennia marina. There have also been attempts by the government to plant mangroves, though its effort has been limited to small areas in the local regions.
Today, Al-Dhakira area is surrounded with the forest of mangrove trees which makes it an ideal home for certain types of fish, organisms and sea birds. Spalding, Kainuma & Collins (2010) noted that even though the area has not been comprehensively studied, a few studies conducted in the area have shown that the area is fit for wintering and the passage of water birds. It is, therefore, inhabited by such birds as Platalea leucordia and the Sterna anaethetus. The site can, therefore, generate tourism inside. However, up to this time the forest has not gained enough publicity at both the individual citizen and institutional levels. This has been identified as the major cause of lack of attention to this ecosystem which has remained as one of the pillars of the surrounding maritime life in Qatar.
According to Spalding, Kainuma & Collins (2010), the problem has been the lack of information and proper study of educate people and institutions on this profound element of life in the area. Orr (2008) confirms that extensive researches on the existing literature have proved futile because there is no current information regarding the current state of vegetation in the area. Such details like an estimate of the vegetation cover and the records of the changes that have been taking place over time cannot be easy traced. He argues that the publications have also failed in providing the estimates of the area under vegetation around the small town. This is a clear indication that there has not been a comprehensive survey of the area under the Al-Dhakira. This can lead to true loss of marine life and eventually to more damage to the environment.
In fact, mangrove forests have become an important part of the people’s life in the small town of Al-Dhakira. Orr (2008) observes that the area is currently a source of both coastal and marine resources, including fish. The management of coastal resources is, therefore, a very key aspect of this ecosystem, as it is connected directly to people’s welfare. The site has been protected with booms, especially whenever oil spills occur. However, Orr (2008) notes that it has not been formally recognized by the government. This means that it has not been put under protection as one of the key areas for conservation of wildlife in the country.
The area has therefore faced a number of problems which seemingly will worsen in the future. First among such problems is the issue of camel grazing that has remained a major challenge to the sustainability of the mangrove ecosystem. Second, the land is bound to face the challenges related to the ongoing growth of a new town currently coming up to the north coast. Orr (2008) warns that without appropriate interventions, there will be a problem of land reclamation and recreational disturbances in the near future. Another problem that has always affected the site is that one of the oil spill. Unfortunately, there has been very little if any to mitigate the effects of these factors in the future. The impact of oil, for example, would have been so adverse if it could not have been for the topographical nature of the site which has provided a good protection around it. The effect would worsen in the future with 90% of the population of Qatar presently living in its towns and cities.
The Starting Point
Having looked at the current situation, it is clear that there is a great need for an urgent action towards the protection of Al-Dhakira Mangrove forest. There are various issues that will be considered as a key to the starting and the realization of the goals of this project. First, this project will have to identify the real problems facing mangrove forests in Al-Dhakira, the actual partners, the customers, and the beneficiaries. The project will then establish the type and volume of the work it would take for the project to be implemented. The project will also aim at learning from what other similar projects, carried out in other countries, are facing.
According to Spalding, Kainuma & Collins (2010), even though there have been various attempts to establish mangrove plantations, much has not been achieved. He observes that the only areas which have realized some level of success are the protected inlets which exist along the east coast. The areas lying to the west coast have particularly lagged behind because of their high level of water salinity. Even though humans in Qatar have not ventured into major usage of these forests, they sometimes carry out certain activities like recreational boating and fishing.
Just like the other countries from the Middle East, one of the problems facing Al-Dhakira has been the browsing of domestic animals which has not posed much threat because the pressure has not been so much allowing the forest to re-grow. However, Orr (2008) notes that oil spills is the greatest problem, as it causes a great pollution. Equally, there has been a problem of coastal development whose effect has been on the increase, as it has resulted into an ever increasing reclamation to accommodate the excess population migrating into these areas. Additionally, he observes that the growth of these coastal towns has also led to increase damping of solid and liquid waste in mangrove forests. Unfortunately, the country has not demarcated any coastal area for protection. However, there have been numerous proposals seeking for the protection of Al-Dhakira through declaring it a biosphere reserve. In addition, Qatar Petroleum has equally aiming at protecting the mangroves in Qatar.
In comparison to what is happening in Saudi Arabia which has sparse mangroves on the coasts of both the Persian Gulf and Red sea. The country also faces the challenges of high salinity and the browsing of camel and commercial. Mangroves have also been used here to attract tourists, especially those who would want to participate in bird watching. The country also faces the challenge of reclamation of land for urbanization and industrialization. Equally oil pollution has also been a threat, especially along the Arabian Gulf; an example occurred during the 1991 first Gulf War.
However, unlike Qatar, the country has recognized the contribution of these areas and various measures have, therefore, been put in place towards rescuing the mangrove from the effects of these threats. Such measures include expanding of the shrimp farming and maintenance and protection of the mangrove fringes, especially those near the ponds. The country has also declared four areas protected. Additionally, Orr (2008) noted that there had been the promotion of plantation of mangrove in small scale. Such efforts have been put forward by such bodies as the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development which together with other parties like the various oil companies have been supporting the Project of the Wetland Protection and Mangrove Rehabilitation. The country has also experimented with the plantation of a number of alien species along the Northern Gulf coast.
Having determined the current situation, the team will prepare a questionnaire and conduct an initial feasibility study. The entire period of the study will take one month. This one month will be divided to enable all the stages of research to be accomplished. These include: seeking for permission from the relevant authorities, development of the questionnaires which fit every target group, training of those who would take part in the administration of the questionnaires, carrying out a pretest of the tools, conducting the actual research, analyzing the findings, and finally presentation and dissemination of the findings.
The study will consider as its sample population people from among those already taking part in the Mangrove Project in Qatar and other people who will be drawn from the larger Qatar. The team will then analyze the information collected from the field and come up with a report which will clearly outline all the details and plan on how the project will be implemented.
At the beginning of the project, the team shall hold an official meeting which will bring together all the stakeholders in the project. This project is timely and very relevant as it will not only complement the existing projects on the ground working to manage the resources along the Qatar coast, but it will also help in bringing together the stakeholders to ensure that their intervention is of great impact. The project has been necessitated by the worsening situation of the mangrove ecosystem at Al-Dhakira, even amidst the government claiming that it had put the area under protection. The participants in this project shall include: all the Qataris, Al-Dhakira population, Qatar schools, the research team which is running the prevention project, fishermen, tourists and most of the institutions and the companies in Qatar.
Identifying the Problems
The attempt to conserve the mangrove forest in Al-Dhakira has seen a number of challenges with the major problem being the issue of the salinity of the water in the surrounding area. This has resulted from the construction of fish-pens which has caused disturbances to the normal flow ebbing the tidal water and navigation. This in turn affects the filtration process which is always made possible by the presence of the mangrove forest. Once affected, the forest loses its effectiveness in filtering the wastes originating from the communities staying off the shore. This results into siltation and, thus, lowers the quality of water. Many fish are, thus, killed making the economic state of the community even worse.
The issue is further complicated by the fact that the water in Al-Dhakira has kept on rising, creating an ecological imbalance that is not conducive for the growth of the mangrove. Together with the problem of the scarcity of marine life which has majorly been caused by the effects of the large construction projects, located just along the coastal waters, Qatar is slowly losing its mangrove forest in the Al-Dhakira area.
Projects Goals and Objectives
The goal of this project is to protect mangrove trees. This will be achieved majorly by creating awareness through public education to lobby all the people of Qatar to participate in the protection and attraction program. The project also aims at building an information center with a view of ensuring sustainability through presenting the available information materials to all the people of Qatar, thereby creating a knowledgeable population. Additionally, the project aims at strengthening the accountability of the institutions involved through training them in the management of the mangrove ecosystems. Lastly, the project also aims at increasing the level of participation of the community towards the management of the mangrove ecosystem.
The project will employ a number of strategies which have been well outlined. These strategies will include conducting a detailed study. This shall be done by the consultants. The report will then be analyzed for a better understanding of the present situation of the ecosystem. Another strategy will be to organize series of presentations to the responsible parties, such as the relevant government officials, project personnel, university students and even school pupils. The project team will also seek to gain approval for constructing scenario for protecting the mangrove trees. To ensure sustainability of the impacts of the project, the team will seek to ensure the building of an information center which shall be responsible for running the forest. The centre will include a small team to protect the forest and provide information while at the same time carrying out continuous studies to update the same information.
Gathering Information and Requirements
The information shall majorly be obtained from the administration of questionnaires and the deliberations that shall be reached at by the team of stakeholders. The team shall use the results from the analysis of the feedbacks from the questionnaires and that of the deliberation by the project team to come up with useful information that the team can use to guide its campaign on the need to protect and manage mangrove forests. However, such strategies, as chosen by the team, will then have to be scrutinized to allow the identification and adoption of the most useful ones. In the process of reviewing the strategies, the team will visit schools and universities to solicit for their support as well as to provide the relevant information to them. With this kind of interaction, the team will be able to test effectively its strategies.
The team will also conduct workshops during which it will be possible to define various issues related to mangroves with the stakeholders being encouraged to come up with their own strategies towards addressing such challenges. The media will also be contacted to provide an opportunity which can be utilized by the stakeholders concerned with educating the public to pass various environmental related information issues, especially those directly linked to the management of mangrove ecosystem.
The community will be provided with such messages during the various meetings which shall be open for all the community members. The community members are also important during the implementation stage of the project. The community may include such issues as the need to avoid the construction of fish pond along the mangrove ecosystem. There is need for the community to understand that such developments can adversely affect their own natural resource base and cause economic crisis, as it will affect the supply of all the resources obtained from that ecosystem.
Finally, the team will also approach the decision makers to get the initial approval. This stage will also include the intentions/ideas for expansion or additional services to be provided at the location. The project institutionalization will be strengthened by persuading various institutions to commit financially as part of their support to the project.
The success factors in the study will include: protecting the ecosystem, providing the right environment for the marine life, introducing a new attraction place for the tourists inside and outside Qatar, protecting the surrounding land against the possibility of the rise of sea level, and preventing the area from the temperature rise.
Identifying Expectations and Risks
There is no true present risk, apart from the cost, that will be directly incurred in carrying out the activities that aim at achieving the objectives of the project.
The scope of the work will include the initial consultant’s presentation, initial agreement, setting up the team members, estimating the workload expected and the budget required. The scope will also clearly state if there are other people involved, the location and the number of field trips to be conducted.
The stakeholders include all Qataris, Al-Dhakira populations, Qatar Schools and the research team which is running the prevention project. The research team will also be responsible for carrying out a rapid resource assessment to know the extent to which the damage of the ecosystem has occurred. Other stakeholders will include the fishermen, tourists and most of the institutions and companies in Qatar. The project will also work together with municipal authorities along the coastal strip.
Whether or not the approval is granted will depend on the benefits that are expected from the project. There will be the management responsible for achieving the objectives. They will approve the project and assign the team their duties to ensure that the goals are realized. Finally, at this stage, the consultancy team will kick start the project by collecting the information, developing the next move and providing the necessary recommendations.