Over 4,000 Damas trees – long been dubbed a ‘menace’ in many residential areas across the UAE – had been uprooted in Ras Al Khaimah since November, an environment official said.
Not only were they found disrupting water supply in the emirate, beekeepers had also been complaining that these trees were affecting the quality of their honey, said Dr. Saif Al Ghais, executive director of the emirate’s Environment Protection and Development Authority (Epda).
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“The nectar that bees get from Damas trees is often mixed with those from other local flowers according to beekeepers. This negatively affects the quality and taste of the honey produced,” Al Ghais said.
Most of the trees that the Epda removed were found in sewage and water networks, as well as in areas near factories, schools, and residences.
“We have received so many complaints from the public about how these trees blocked their water and sewage networks because of the trees’ quick expansion,” Al Ghais said.
The Damas tree, scientifically known as Conocarpus Lancifolius, is a fast-growing tree. Although its tolerance of heat and drought makes it a perfect landscape choice across the UAE, its rapid growth had been causing problems for communities.
These trees have long been considered a menace in many residential areas in the country, especially in Dubai. They are said to be causing damage to the underground piping systems, drains, walls and swimming pools in residential areas.
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“The roots of this tree are what causes the trouble. It only requires a tiny gap for it to grow,” gardener Promod Kumar said in a previous Khaleej Times report. These roots can penetrate deep into the ground, damaging drains and walls and can even lead to a spike in utility bills.
The Epda in Ras Al Khaimah started removing the trees since November, according to the instruction of the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Damas seeds and seedlings are now also banned in the UAE, Al Ghais said.
These trees were brought to the UAE some 20 years back. “Native to the coastal and riverine areas of Somalia, Djibouti, and Yemen, the Damas tree is also found throughout the Horn of Africa and South Asia,” he added.
Dr. Al Ghais encouraged all residents, factories, and schools to plant other local trees, such as mangroves and Sidr, instead of the Damas variety.
“Local trees can also tolerate the hot weather and help protect the environment,” he said.