Ef­fec­tive and en­thu­si­as­tic

Muscat Daily - - FEATURES -

Soli&Green, founded by a hand­ful of en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists in their thir­ties, or­gan­ises plant­ing week­ends in win­ter and helps other or­gan­i­sa­tions that want to do the same.

Since Novem­ber, it has com­piled a list of all the coun­try's re­for­esta­tion ini­tia­tives and es­ti­mates that by mid-Jan­uary, al­most a mil­lion trees had been planted.

The state does most of the work. The re­gional com­mis­sion for agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment (CRDA), a pub­lic body, pro­vides vol­un­teers with ba­sic train­ing, thou­sands of tree shoots and a wa­ter­ing truck.

"When we use labour­ers, we plant around 1,000 trees a day. But with vol­un­teers, we can plant 4,000, even 5,000 a day. There are a lot of them, they are ef­fec­tive and it's free," says Nizar Kh­lif, a man­ager at the Sil­iana branch of the CRDA.

"And there is a par­tic­i­pa­tory ap­proach - they in­volve the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion."

The ar­rival of the city-dwelling, back­pack-car­ry­ing vol­un­teers has in­spired Sil­iana res­i­dents.

In 2017, 40 hectares of for­est went up in smoke. A sus­pected ar­son­ist said he had hoped the blaze would com­pel au­thor­i­ties to re­cruit for­est rangers, and that he would be hired.

"It was as if we'd lost a fam­ily mem­ber," says 14 year old Khairi Jaied, from a nearby vil­lage. "I have many good mem­o­ries of the for­est. It's good to see these peo­ple help­ing so that our re­gion can re­build its re­sources."

But the state is in­creas­ingly join­ing forces with lo­cal res­i­dents and its re­for­esta­tion strate­gies seem to be pay­ing off.

Forests and scrub­land now cover more than 1.3mn hectares, or around 8.5 per cent of the coun­try, up from 7.4 per cent in 2011, ac­cord­ing to the direc­torate gen­eral for forests.

The aim is to reach ten per cent by 2024.

Whether it's post-fire re­for­esta­tion or fight­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion in the south by plant­ing palms and olive trees, the task is enor­mous.

Nes­sim Zouaoui, 26, says he is some­times dis­cour­aged.

"I spend most of my free time clean­ing beaches and plant­ing trees," says the young en­tre­pre­neur and ac­tivist.

"But we just went to see a neigh­bour­ing plot where we worked in March and we re­alised that we had com­pletely planted a for­est. That's re­ally mo­ti­vat­ing!"

(AFP pho­tos)

Vol­un­teers plant trees on the Kesra moun­tains in Tu­nisia's Sil­iana re­gion on Novem­ber 14, 2019

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.