Upset by the amount of trash strewn about one of Qatar’s few lush areas, more than 400 volunteers traveled to Al Khor to participate in a mangrove clean-up yesterday.
Qatar is home to eight mangrove sites, and all are protected by a 2006 Emiri decree. But in recent years, the sites have taken a lot of abuse from visitors, many of whom leave behind their trash. The sites also contain discarded tires and refuse washed up from the sea.
Last month, a video of the litter at the mangroves began circulating on social media, prompting calls for action.
Yesterday’s cleanup was organized by ILoveQatar.net, in conjunction with some dozen other companies.
Speaking to Doha News, Khalifa Saleh Al Haroon said that despite the above 40C heat and the fact that the cleanup took place at 7am on a Friday morning, many people had big smiles on their faces.
“It was truly a community effort. A beautiful sight of everyone helping in whatever way that they could…I had asked, megaphone blaring, where people came from, just to make a point that we’re from all over the world, coming together for one cause. Sri Lanka, America, Pakistan, South Africa, England, Cameroon, Nigeria, India, Philippines, Qatar, people kept shouting countries, and everyone cheered them.”
He added that volunteers filled up two trucks provided by Global Metals with trash and items for recycling.
The cleanup took place at the Al Thakira mangroves near Al Khor, one of the largest and oldest mangrove sites in Qatar.
The plants play a vital role in helping to reduce climate change because they absorb up to 50 times more carbon than a similar area of tropical forest. They also offer a safe breeding place for many varieties of fish.
Before cleaning up the area, Al Haroon said volunteers were advised on how to avoid damaging the environment.
“We had wanted around 200 volunteers, but had over 550 registrations. I have to admit I was worried that we were such a big crowd, but everyone was respectful and sensitive about being careful,” he said.
Following the cleanup, Al Haroon added:
“The message here isn’t only ‘Keep the Mangroves clean and Don’t throw garbage’, it’s ‘Don’t throw garbage and be clean wherever your are.’ Simple.”