Did you Know?
  • Feeding on shrubs, the Spiny-tailed Lizard never drinks water and is capable of changing colour with body temperature, turning from black to white or yellow as the lizard warms up

Ecosystems as Commodity Frontiers - Challenges Faced by Land Set Aside as Protected Areas

Brigitte Howarth, Tamer Khafaga, Greg Simkins & Sabrina Joseph


This chapter examines natural habitats in Dubai, UAE that the state has demarcated as protected areas (PAs) in an attempt to utilise them for recreational/economic purposes while also mitigating habitat fragmentation. The authors employ the concept of the ‘commodity frontier’ to demonstrate how these PAs have contributed to the ongoing commodification of land that began with the rise of modern agriculture in the mid-twentieth century. The rise of the oil economy in the mid-twentieth century stimulated significant development that, over time, has resulted in ecological degradation. In line with state conservation agendas aimed at greening the desert and preserving biodiversity, PAs also serve as a mechanism for promoting tourism. Ironically, these activities have, in turn, put further pressure on the country’s natural resources and desert ecology. The authors also present an example of a PA that has been effectively managed and could serve as a model of sustainable development.