Clean Al Dimaniyat Islands drive creates waste hazard awareness in Oman

Oman Sunday 11/March/2018 22:27 PM
By: Times News Service
Clean Al Dimaniyat Islands drive creates waste hazard awareness in Oman

Muscat: The Ras Al Hamra Recreational Centre, in association with Oh Man Adventure, organised the first “Clean it Up” volunteer campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of plastic and other hazardous materials for the ecosystem of the Al Dimaniyat Islands Nature Reserve.
They were joined by the Environment Society of Oman and Holland Committee Oman, with support provided by the Oman Oil Marketing Company.
Elizabeth van Loon, a volunteer, told the Times of Oman: “I was really shocked today. You always see a lot of garbage everywhere but seeing layer upon layer of rubbish in one of the most beautiful nature reserves in Oman was shocking.”
As part of a broader initiative to educate Oman’s youth on the dangers of littering, volunteers from the club were joined by student ambassadors from the PDO School, who will be presenting some of the disposable items collected in the reserve to their classmates in Muscat.
The campaign was organised following the discovery of a large discarded net that was threatening marine life. A multinational team, comprising over 60 volunteers, including students, boat captains, and a large contingent of Dutch expatriates, answered the call to combat waste in Al Dimaniyat.
Within less than an hour of scouring the islands, volunteers had already collected bags filled with trash. Highlighting the growing threat to the nature reserve was the rubbish washing up on the shore from other parts of the world. Mounds upon mounds of trash from campers and picnickers, however, continue to be a more serious menace.
Throughout the day, volunteers picked up more than their fair share of diapers, plastic bottles, liquid containers, shoes, sandals, and even an abandoned chair. At one spot in Jazirat Kharaba, volunteers found that somebody had tried to burn the trash before burying the rest.
“I’ve lived here for over four years. I think this initiative is incredible because it’s not only about Oman. Garbage is a worldwide problem. Plastic is coming from other corners of the world into this beautiful nature reserve and around. The organising team, which I am a part of, found four turtles entangled in nets and plastics over one weekend. So, that says a lot. We are looking for stakeholders who want to join in and really make an impact,” van Loon said.
She concluded with some advice for residents: “The most important thing is that everyone must take their own initiative. While walking on the beach or going for a picnic, just do something more than for yourself. Look around, take your gloves and sacks with you and teach your kids. You can be an example, a leader for others.”
PDO School student ambassadors Gina, Syifa, Sophie, Emma, and Tycho all described the trip as tiring, smelly, but exciting. Syifa said: “It is sad seeing how people are careless about our planet.”
The group of young eco-warriors agreed that they’d seen first-hand the dangers of littering and would be taking back some trash to show their classmates. When asked what they’d like the rest of Oman and the world to know about littering, they said: “Garbage is smelly, causes a lot of problems and turns into a lot of small bits that we cannot see. Why on earth would you burn it?”
An archipelago of nine islands, the Al Dimaniyat Islands are located 16-18km from the coast of Seeb. The islands have been a reserve since the issuance of Royal Decree 23/96 in 1996. They have since become a major tourist attraction due to their stunning scenery and wide variety of wildlife. Recognised as a haven for rare species such as ospreys, two species of turtles, and abundant coral, the islands are currently being considered for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage list.