Dubai’s Model of Sustainability Sprouting at the Expo 2020 Nursery
On World Water Day, Expo 2020 Dubai shows how to save water using native, adaptive plants
By Janice Ponce de Leon, Gulf News UAE Staff Reporter
Image Source: Dubai Expo 2020
Dubai: As the Expo 2020 Dubai site takes shape, tucked just beside it is a place where all “the magic happens” — a 22-hectare nursery home to thousands of water-efficient native and adaptive plants and trees that will soon spread across the world fair site.
Greening the 4.38 square km Expo site off Jebel Ali is a massive undertaking, with 12,157 trees and palm trees, more than 256,000 shrubs and thousands more of ornamental and flowering plants and grass.
Sustaining this greenery with water for the entire six-month Expo in a sustainable way - and beyond - is an ambitious goal especially in an arid country like the UAE.
But it’s doable, said Dina Mustafa, Head of Sustainability Operations – Sustainability, Expo 2020 Dubai. Through the Expo nursery, Mustafa and her team showcased how with will, resourcefulness and technology one can sustainably manage water which aligns with the objectives of World Water Day celebrated annually today.
“This is where the magic happens when it comes to our plants and trees and everything that will go on site as we’re getting ready for Expo 2020,” Mustafa told Gulf News during a site visit.
“All plants and the trees we have here are mainly native and adaptive plants and it’s for a very good reason - it saves us about 50 percent of the water needed for plants and trees.”
In the UAE, irrigated agriculture is the primary water consumer, with an average of around 60 percent of total water use, according to Fanack Water, an independent research firm quoting government figures. Of this, 39 percent is used for productive agriculture while 11 percent is used for greening and landscaping and 10 percent for forestry.
“Sustainability in the Expo is not just a subtheme; it is in the DNA of the Expo. Everything that we do is to ensure that we are walking the talk. If we’re going to show the whole world that we’re sustainable, we have to be sustainable,” Mustafa said.
The Expo team will also use smart controls and meters which sense ground moisture to deliver only as much irrigation water as required, plus sub-surface irrigation and drip technology to maximise treated sewage water usage.
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