Dr Thuraya Said al Sariri, assistant director general of nature conservation in MECA said, “We started the initiative titled, A’Shjar in March and have already distributed around 2,124 saplings. We want people to plant these saplings in homes, schools and farms.”
Those interested in getting these saplings can visit the ministry’s nurseries in Salalah, Barka and Al Saleel Natural Park in South Sharqiyah.
Dr Thuraya said the initiative has been undertaken by the ministry to preserve wild trees keeping in mind their economic and medicinal values and impact on the ecosystem. “We are encouraging greenification through native wild plants so that we do not come across the problem of invasive species in future.”
The plants that are being distributed by the ministry include, Simr (Acacia tortillis), Sidr (Ziziphus spina-christi), Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria) and Sawqam/Gheydeh (Ficvus sycomorus) among others.”
Speaking about desertification, Dr Thuraya said. “The primary cause of desertification is the removal of vegetation which leads to depletion of nutrients from soil, making land infertile and unusable for farming. The reason for the initial removal of vegetation varies, but the dominant factors are cutting down trees and over-grazing of land by farmed animals.”
The government has started a number of initiatives to prevent desertification, she added.
“In order to combat desertification, the government has started a fog collection project in Salalah. We have five fenced areas for the project. Water collected from fog is used for plantation purposes. The project is already a success.”
Another project by the ministry is in collaboration with the Sultan Qaboos University.
“This project started in 2013 and will finish in 2017. In this project, we are mapping degraded areas particularly those in Dhofar, South Sharqiyah and Jebel Akhdar,” Dr Thuraya added.