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EPAA Issues Over 80 Tickets For Environmental Violations In Q4 2019

Ongoing awareness programmes for wilderness visitors

Teams from the Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) issued visitors to wilderness areas with more than 800 tickets during the last quarter of 2019. The majority of the tickets were issued for leaving food and waste from barbecues in wilderness areas, moving rocks and harming the environment, changing the features of the area, and damaging plants in the area.

Based on Executive Council Resolution No. 9 of 2012, which prohibits the degradation of the environment in Sharjah’s wilderness areas, EPAA continues to raise awareness with programmes and activities for visitors, focusing on the importance of preserving wilderness areas. EPAA is redoubling its efforts during this period because the good weather is conducive to hiking and visits to wilderness areas. Increasingly, people visit these areas in their cars, which can destroy wild herbs and plants and kill wild animals. Visitors may be unaware that the area is part of a nature reserve or that it contributes to the conservation of biodiversity.

HE Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, EPAA Chairperson, said, “EPAA is keen to implement the vision and directives of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, with regards to the environment and its protection, conservation, cleanliness and sustainability. Specialised teams work to achieve EPAA’s plans and strategies, carrying out multiple campaigns throughout the year, including campaigns to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the environment and leaving it clean. In light of the lower temperatures, nice weather and the public’s interest in visiting wilderness areas on weekends and holidays, EPAA has introduced more campaigns to raise awareness about practices that are harmful to the environment and to sustainability in the wilderness.”

Mrs Al Suwaidi pointed out that the law prohibits activities that violate federal and local legislation concerning environmental protection by harming the ecosystem and impacting visitors and residents negatively. Activities that are prohibited in wilderness areas include dumping, burying, storing or disposing of hazardous waste, polluting the environment, disturbing the health and safety of individuals or the community, soil erosion, damaging vegetation and cutting down perennial and non-perennial trees of national and environmental importance.

EPAA’s initiatives and programmes help to raise environmental awareness. For example, the barbecue disposal campaign educated visitors about the damage caused by barbecue waste and about using and disposing of charcoal safely.

Visitors to the wilderness areas respond well to EPAA campaigns that are publicised in the media and on social media, which indicates that the public is interested in helping to protect and preserve the environment.

The law includes conditions for hiking and camping in wilderness areas and fines ranging from AED1000 to AED50,000 for violations. Violations include soil erosion, damaging vegetation, and cutting down perennial or non-perennial trees of national and environmental importance for logging purposes (AED10,000); disposing of industrial and manufacturing waste (AED50,000); disposing of construction and demolition waste (AED 50,000); disposing of wastewater and oils used in sanitation networks (AED50,000); overgrazing and leaving animals untended (AED1,000); poaching, killing or harming wild animals, destroying geological formations, habitats or breeding grounds for animals, plants or birds (AED10,000); driving any type of vehicle in areas where herbs and plants grow or in locations of environmental importance (AED1,000); discarding waste, food, leftovers and barbecue residue in wilderness areas (AED2000); and throwing, leaving or disposing of waste.

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