Bulletin 40 - March 1990: Chairman's Report for 1989

Chairman's Report for 1989

During the course of 1989 the Emirates Natural History Group has continued to thrive. Turnover in membership has remained high, but those leaving have been replaced by an influx of new members and at the end of the year total membership, counting family membership as two people, was over 200, well up on last year. The Group has continued to attract publicity in the local English language press, with a welcome extension into the Arabic media, while our activities have also received recognition in a number of Government publications at home and abroad, for which we are grateful.

Our own publications, the monthly Newsletter and the thrice-yearly Bulletin, have continued successfully, largely thanks to the sterling efforts of editors Caroline Fuggle and Rob Western, and enjoy a growing readership. Caroline stepped down in November after nearly three years in charge of the Newsletter but will re-emerge, Phoenix-like, in a different post after the AGM. Rob soldiers on into his 13th year as Bulletin Editor. Our thanks to both for their efforts.

Some of the press publicity about the Group has occurred because of our links with other organizations, such as ADCO, with whom we organized an environmental exhibition in December, and because of the activities of individual members -- notably our long-time Bulletin Editor, Rob Western, whose book on the Flora of the UAE was published during the year. He deserves our congratulations. We are grateful to our Patron, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al Nahyan, for arranging for the book to be published by the Emirates University, and for his continued support in a variety of fields. Links with other bodies will continue to be an important feature of our activities in the year ahead.

Our regular meetings have continued to set a high standard, on both local and foreign subjects, while for the first time for some years we have been able to rough out a program well in advance, even though last-minute changes have occurred. Our weekend field trips to Ras al Khaimah and to Fujairah have been successful, as usual, and are now a well-established and popular part of the Group's annual program of activities.

During the past 12 months the Group has obtained a personal computer, a donation from our Patron, which is now being used for the computerization of all of our records - a welcome addition to our resources. The work of Bish Brown in getting it operational has been invaluable, as has been that of Ingeborg Maripuu and Penny Quested. Our thanks to them all. And, of course, to Bish for his work in so many other areas of Group activities, not least in continuing the work on exhibits for our Old Fort display, which should be open to the public by the end of 1990.

There has been no progress on the Abu Dhabi wetlands project, but one important event during the year was the study trip to Qarnein Island at the invitation of Foreign Ministry Under Secretary Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al Nahyan, the forerunner, we hope, of many other similar study trips to offshore islands. We have also begun discussions with the Abu Dhabi Municipality on the possible establishment of a woodland nature reserve on Abu Dhabi Island.

Group members were active, albeit discreetly, during the period leading up to the banning of ivory and rhinoceros horn imports into the UAE in May, a move that has been widely welcomed internationally, while our liaison with scientific organizations abroad has continued to develop successfully.

Your Committee has seen several changes of personnel during the year. In particular, I should thank Ted Garside, who took over as Chairman in April 1987, and left the UAE at the end of October, after two and a half years at the helm. We are grateful to him and his wife, Muff, for all their work in what was an important transitional period for the Group.

At the end of 1989, although we could do with more UAE Nationals as members, the Group is more broadly based in terms of its membership and its activities. Although the ENHG remains a voluntary body, and will continue thus, we have secured a greater degree of recognition from state institutions, enabling us to play a more directly active role in studying and conserving the UAE's environment and natural history. Much remains to be done, in which we can all play our part.

Finally, I should express my thanks to past and present members of the Committee, and to our Recorders, and to our members at large for their support and efforts over the past year. I am confident that the Emirates Natural History Group will go from strength to strength in the year ahead.

Peter Hellyer


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