Aramco has several initiatives regarding wetlands, including an initiative to restore wetland health near Abqaiq.
Western marsh harrier – a bird of prey often found hunting over reed beds. (Photo: Philip Roberts)
In celebration of the World Wetlands Day on Feb. 2, we recognize the enormous importance of wetlands and the vital roles that they play for both people and the planet.
Wetlands support a wealth of unique biodiversity including amphibians, mammals, fish, dragonflies, and birds many of which have unique adaptations to their watery environment. They also provide humanity with a host of ‘ecosystem services’ (the benefits that we all get from "Mother Nature," for free) including fresh water, flood control, climate regulation and food.
The influence of wetlands on food production alone is staggering; according to the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research CGIAR, more than 700 million people depend on aquatic agricultural systems for their livelihoods.
And yet, wetlands are among the most threatened ecosystems on the planet, impacted by drainage for development, pollution, and climate change.
Aramco has recognized the importance and precarious state of wetlands, and has developed an initiative to restore wetland health and biodiversity; one of these initiatives is the Abqaiq wetlands.
Caspian tern can be found at the Abqaiq wetlands.
Abqaiq wetlands, near the Abqaiq community of the same name, consists of 2.5 km2 of restored wetlands. The wetlands supports native wildlife, including many migratory and wetland bird species such as Western marsh harrier, Caspian tern, and spotted crake. So far, more than 90 species, of plants, mammals, birds and reptiles have been recorded at the site, with species of both national in international significance recorded.
hese wetlands have been carefully restored by the company, having been previously used as a dumping site for unregulated solid waste.
Commencing in 2016, the company removed the waste material, fenced the area to prevent additional dumping, controlled feral dogs and cats (which are a threat to native animals), and installed two birdwatching hides. The area features a sanctuary of reedy wetlands and a planted tree belt to the west of the Abqaiq community.
Further, an additional 25,000 native trees planted at the site in 2018 continue to mature and are beginning to provide additional habitat for numerous native species. The facilities will provide guided recreational and educational opportunities for visitors to enjoy the restored wetlands.
— The Arabian Sun: February 02, 2023