The case of Rabigh Lagoon, Red Sea
Change has always been constant and guaranteed for this universe. We have read of the myriad climatic changes throughout the annals of the planet in the form of ice ages and obliteration of many species. At many instances, these changes have been abrupt and at times very slow. Similar changes are on the run-in contemporary era in the patterns induced by human activities. In the same way, forests are being drastically damaged via different drivers of deforestation such as construction, agriculture, non-timber forest products, fuelwood, furniture and many more. Mangroves forest like any other forest also face the threat of deforestation and degradation.
Mangroves of Rabigh Lagoon on the Eastern coast of Red Sea in Saudi Arabia have been affected by various ways that has it led to its decline over the past few decades. The main reasons for the damage to these forests are sedimentation, road construction and camel grazing. Similar concerns have been voiced in a recently published article titled “Monitoring Mangroves Forest Degradation and Regeneration: Landsat Time Series Analysis of Moisture and Vegetation Indices at Rabigh Lagoon, Red Sea”. It analyses different vegetation indices and parameters to study the temporal evolution of mangrove communities present in the lagoon. The study presents a very viable and broad view of how mangroves have been disturbed by road construction. The point addressed was related to the obstruction in water circulation which led to various kinds of physiological damage to the mangrove specie Avicennia marina trees. An interesting observation made in the study was the recovery of mangroves in the post disturbance period after the road was demolished which resulted in water recharge back to the lagoon and thus stabilizing salinity, pH and other physio chemical properties of the surface water. Although the remedial measure that has been put in place have brought in some degree of restoration, more needs to be done in order to preserve these ecological zones.
Rabigh lagoon is an attractive place for tourists due to its vivid coral reefs and mangroves. As a result of industrial progress in petroleum sector, this lagoon has been neglected by government agencies. Roads were constructed over the lagoon for the improvement of industrial sectors. These roads obstructed the water circulation between lagoon and sea. Due to bellowing of environmental agencies government dismantled the major road in the north which resulted in revitilization of mangrove population. We all know, it is tough to persuade the government to restore environmentally degraded areas since preference is given to capital generation through industrialization. However rehabilitation of ecologically rich areas can be an essential component of environment compliant economy and sustainable development. In addition tourism will be promoted that will eventually result in revenue.
Lastly, it is not surprising to say that humans, who are responsible for damaging habitats and sensitive biodiversity hotspots, have also helped revive and resuscitate the degraded environment. He has brought in scientific solutions, policy, legislature, capacity building programs and raised funds to fight environmental disasters. Terms like sustainable development have been introduced thereby mobilizing the present generation to care for their coming generation. Patience is key since decades of constant destruction will need a lot of time to be remediated or reversed.
I acknowledge that the research was supported by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, KSA. For more detail read the publication “Monitoring Mangroves Forest Degradation and Regeneration: Landsat Time Series Analysis of Moisture and Vegetation Indices at Rabigh Lagoon, Red Sea”.
Khan Waseem Razzaq
Institut Ekosains Borneo, Universiti Putra Malaysia