Agriculture Ministry launches projects to fight desertification

Forests represent only 1% of Kingdom's land area: Al-Mushaiti

Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Mansour Al-Mushaiti says his ministry plans to rehabilitate 60,000 hectares of pastureland in the Kingdom.

Saudi Gazette report

— Forests account for only 1 percent of the Kingdom's total land area, Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Mansour Al-Mushaiti has said.

"The country's vegetation including forests, resorts and pastures is on the decline as a result of desertification,” the deputy minister said.

He spoke about two initiatives to achieve sustainable growth of forests and fight desertification by planting 4 million trees and supplying 6 million seedlings.

The ministry aims to rehabilitate 60,000 hectares of pastures, develop 100 green resorts and establish 24 national parks within four years, in addition to 17 initiatives for environmental protection.

Al-Mushaiti emphasized his ministry's resolve to carry out a number of programs to protect environment with the support of non-profit organizations.

"This move goes in line with the Kingdom's Vision 203," the deputy minister said while commending good coordination between the various nonprofit organizations in the country.

He has said the ministry intends to carry out two initiatives, as part of the 2020 National Transformation Program to cultivate forests and pastures, and increase investments in the field.

"We intend to plant 10 million trees with the support of public and private sector organizations," Al-Hayat Arabic daily quoted Al-Mushaiti as saying while addressing a group of 100 experts.

"There are 131 botanical species with more than 2,500 types of plants and trees in the country. Forests represent only 1 percent of the Kingdom's total area while pastures account for 71 percent."

He stressed the importance of meetings attended by delegates from environmental organizations to discuss ways and measures to prevent desertification and increase the country's greenery.

Dr. Osama Faqeeh, another deputy minister, was also present in the meeting. He underscored the ministry's efforts to plant more trees across the country and prevent deforestation.

"The campaign organized by the ministry has played a big role in achieving the goal of planting 4 million trees by the year 2020," Faqeeh said.

Tarek Al-Abbasi, director general of the department for biodiversity and combating desertification, spoke about the benefits of the plantation campaign.

Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sugair, chairman of Afaq Khadra Charitable Society, stressed the important role of NGOs in protecting environment and enhancing environmental awareness among the public.

Meanwhile, Al-Mushaiti spoke about the National Center for Palms and Dates, which seeks to develop the sector by adopting modern farming methods.

"The center has organized a number of workshops to enlighten farmers about better agricultural practices,” he pointed out.