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  • Sheryll Mericido

Saudi Arabia reveals ambitious roadmap for planting 10 billion trees

Riyadh, October 09, 2023, Saudi Arabia has unveiled a comprehensive roadmap aimed at achieving its ambitious goal of planting 10 billion trees as part of the Saudi Green Initiative, a project championed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. This announcement underscores the nation's commitment to addressing environmental challenges and enhancing citizens' quality of life while unlocking long-term economic and social benefits through tree planting efforts.

The roadmap's launch coincides with the second annual MENA Climate Week, hosted for the first time in Saudi Arabia from October 8 to 12, 2023, in Riyadh. It strategically outlines plans for Saudi Arabia's various habitat zones to maximize vegetation cover, with a specific focus on urban areas, highways, and greenbelts to provide ecosystem services benefiting residents' health and well-being. The increased tree canopy in city centers is projected to reduce temperatures by at least 2.2℃ and enhance air quality, addressing common environmental hazards associated with urban living.

The initiative's implementation will create jobs nationwide, including roles related to tree cultivation, seed collection, landscape preparation, urban water reuse networks, park and protected area development, and innovative sustainability projects.

Saudi Arabia's tree planting target is one of the world's most ambitious, considering its challenging natural conditions with low rainfall, limited arable land, and a below-average forest area. Originally set as rehabilitating 40 million hectares, it has been revised to 74.8 million hectares. This equates to planting 10 billion trees, accounting for 1% of the global greening target and 20% of the Middle East Green Initiative's afforestation goal of 50 billion trees across the region. Notably, Saudi Arabia has already planted 41 million trees between 2017 and 2023.

The roadmap is the result of a two-year feasibility study conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) and the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification (NCVC), in collaboration with global and local experts. The study aimed to make the 10 billion tree goal achievable while incorporating sustainable irrigation methods and selecting tree species suitable for the Kingdom's environment.

The roadmap will be executed in two phases, with the first phase (2024-2030) focusing on an environmentally friendly approach. From 2030 onwards, phase two will involve more extensive human intervention.

Saudi Arabia boasts a rich biodiversity with over 2,000 flora species across various habitat zones. By 2030, the initiative aims to plant over 600 million trees, rehabilitating 3.8 million hectares of land and safeguarding the Kingdom's natural biodiversity, ultimately realizing the vision of growing 10 billion trees.

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