Survey set to sustain soil

Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi looks to manage resources in the face of rampant development

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By  Tim Wood Published  May 6, 2006

The Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) has signed a US $6.5 million (AED24 million) contract with an Australian firm GRM International to carry out a soil survey in the eastern region of Abu Dhabi. The work by GRM, which will involve satellite images, soil analyses and land mapping, will be carried out in partnership with the Dubai-based International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), with which EAD signed an agreement of cooperation in April last year. The ICBA will provide technical support during the project, which is aimed at providing baseline information to better understand, manage, conserve and sustain the emirate’s soil resources, which have deteriorated due to unplanned expansion and developmental activities. Dr Stewart Routledge, Middle East director of GRM International, said the entire project would be completed in three-and-a-half years and cover 1 million ha. The first phase of the survey will cover the entire area, while the second phase will cover 400,000 ha of the 1 million ha site as the core area of the survey. The survey will assist decision-makers in future land use planning on scientific grounds. “Planners, engineers and developers will be able to use the soil survey maps and data to evaluate soil for engineering purposes, select sites for residence, agriculture, industry, construction, routes for highways or golf courses and identify special practices needed to ensure proper construction,” said Majid Al Mansouri, EAD secretary general. Work on the project has already started and a team of technicians and other experts will arrive from Australia next week to collect soil samples, which will then be analysed at laboratories in the UAE and in Australia. Once the project is completed, GRM will document the survey in a report submitted to EAD.

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