Dubai’s new coastal projects are greener than you think


AS the travel and tourism industry debates green issues, TTN talks to Shaun Lenehan, head of environment, the design group, Nakheel, to find out what the coastline redeveloper is doing. Excerpts:

With projects like The Palm and The World, how is Nakheel looking after the environment, particularly in regards to construction and complaints about marine life being affected?
With The Palm and The World we have adopted a standard environmental planning process in line with international best practices.
We do an environmental base line study before we do any work and look at the sea floor in detail. In these cases, the sea floor was very simple in terms of marine life, basically just sand and a little anthropology living within that sand.
Now, over the years we have been building The Palm and The World, we have seen the introduction of a lot of marine life into these projects.
The Palm Jumeirah now has 12 species of coral on the rocky breakwater, 56 species of fish and other forms of marine life in terms of sea weed and sea grasses, sponges, barnacles, crabs and oysters.
And in the last few weeks we have been discovering lots of fish traps, put by fishermen on the breakwaters, because they are so full of fish. We don’t encourage this, but the fact that these fisherme are putting these traps there and that they are full of fish, proves that there is a healthy marine life there.

Have you informed the United Nations about these positive changes in the marine life around your projects?
Nakheel established a four-year partnership with the UN in January 2007 and we now have five UN personnel who inspect the site on a daily basis and catalogue everything. They study in detail in a very rigorous scientific experimentation, what is going on in the water and we use this scientific advice to help us manage the water environment as best as we can.

Will you oversee these issues after you have handed over, especially to third party developers and owners?
Definitely, each of our projects has a project environmental manager and that role will be ongoing into the operational phase.
In case of third party developers, we ask them to design their projects to a certain standard, aimed at environmental performance. It’s in their interest to protect their environment, if they are building a hotel on an island, they would want their beaches to be clean.

Will you encourage resorts to go green on the islands?
We encourage it. With The World, we are creating an incentive programme encouraging developers to go as green as they can in design. We provide green building guidelines and the more they adapt to these, the more we reward them.
For The Palm, we have six developments providing management guidelines and we remind developers they have to make an allowance for waste sorting and recycling within their developments, besides asking them to go back to the very point of procurement.