Sustainability in the spotlight at UAE Challenge

As well as providing a stunning setting for the UAE Challenge, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club leads the way in the region with their sustainability practices and environmental conservation processes.

Implementing sustainable practices is part of the European Tour group’s commitment to Driving Golf Further in an environmentally and socially sustainable way. At Saadiyat, incorporating sustainable practices is of the highest priority.

Corey Finn, Director of Golf Course Agronomy for Viya Golf and Abu Dhabi, has been one of the driving forces behind the work that has taken place in recent years to ensure Saadiyat remains a leading example of what can be done.

“It’s not just the club’s goal but it’s my goal and our team’s goal to be better stewards of the land that’s been created here,” he said. “We’re a unique property. To create a man-made eco-system which actually gives back to the environment is pretty cool.

“Within the club house and on-course, we have gone plastic free. That’s in the restaurant and out on the course. Three years ago the club changed to a water system that uses recycled water which is environmentally a lot better for Abu Dhabi, as well as being a massive cost saver for the club.

“With the water change, we decided to go down the route of trying to be more sustainable with the turf grass we use here. A conversion was done 24 months ago on all our fairways and surrounding areas. The reason being that it can handle our new recycled water better, it reduces our water use and it’s actually a better grass for the golf course.”

As well as on-course sustainability, the club provide a sanctuary for over 190 bird species, more than 100 gazelles and a rejuvenation of native plants. They also play an active role in supporting the efforts of Saadiyat Island’s Hawksbill Turtle Conservation Programme.

“Saadiyat is the only Audobon certified wildlife sanctuary for golf in the UAE,” said Finn. “We’ve got 190 species of birdlife here, some of which were thought to be extinct. We have over 100 gazelles that live and roam here freely with no input from us. They live on what’s on the property.

“We’re also incredibly sensitive to the Hawksbill Turtle breeding grounds which are just beyond the golf course. We go through a period where we turn our driving range lights down or off so that we don’t disrupt their breeding cycle as they come to shore to lay their eggs.

“As far as I understand they follow the moonlight, so they can get confused if they go to the wrong location. The beach is incredibly important to them as it’s one of the few breeding grounds left for the Hawksbill.”

Challenge Tour star Maverick Antcliff had a first-hand experience with Abu Dhabi’s marine life when he helped release ‘Eagle’ into the Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Area at the Louvre Abu Dhabi before the UAE Challenge got underway.

Reflective of the Sea Turtles’ natural habitat, Louvre Abu Dhabi was chosen as a suitable rehabilitation area for the marine animals to exercise and acclimatise in preparation for their eventual release into Abu Dhabi’s waters.

The Wildlife Rescue program, which is a joint collaboration between the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and The National Aquarium of Abu Dhabi, aims to rescue, rehabilitate and release native wildlife to ensure future generations enjoy a world full of natural treasures.

 The European Tour group became the first professional golf Tour to pledge towards net zero carbon emissions when they signed the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework, and the Framework’s Race to Zero pledge – requiring all signatories to commit to reducing direct emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net zero by 2040.

To conclude the 2023 season, the Rolex Challenge Tour Grand Final supported by the R&A will be a net zero event.

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