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Saudi Arabia launches roadmap to grow 10bn trees

The Saudi Green Initiative will cover zones such as cities, highways and greenbelts
The Saudi Green Initiative will cover zones such as cities, highways and greenbelts

Saudi Arabia has launched a roadmap to grow 10 billion trees under the Saudi Green Initiative.

The roadmap, launched at the second annual Mena Climate Week held in Riyadh from October 8 to 12, lays out a plan for how the kingdom’s habitat zones will achieve the maximum potential vegetation cover. 

The initiative will cover zones such as cities, highways and greenbelts, which benefit the health and wellbeing of Saudi residents. 

City centres are projected to benefit from increased tree canopy cover, reducing temperatures by at least 2.2℃ and improving air quality by reducing CO2 levels. 

New jobs will be created in areas tree growing, seed collection, landscape preparation and maintenance, development of urban water reuse networks, and new parks and protected areas.

The 10 billion tree target was originally announced as being equivalent to rehabilitating 40 million hectares of land. In the process of conducting the study, the target has been revised to 74.8 million hectares of land being rehabilitated. 

Planting 10 billion trees amounts to 1 percent of the global greening target and 20 percent of the Middle East Green Initiative’s afforestation target of planting 50 billion trees across the Middle East. Nearly 41 million trees were planted in Saudi Arabia between 2017 to 2023. 

The roadmap results from a two-year in-depth feasibility study conducted by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification. 

The study’s objective also includes incorporating sustainable irrigation methods into the planting process. Over 1,150 field surveys were conducted across Saudi Arabia as part of the study, including geospatial suitability analysis for vegetation cover, based on environmental conditions, including soil, water, temperature, wind and elevation. 

The roadmap will be implemented in two phases. The first, extending between 2024 and 2030, will focus on the environmental domain, taking a nature-based approach. From 2030 onwards, phase two will incorporate a fully comprehensive policy with a high level of human intervention. 

By 2030, over 600 million trees are expected to be planted – equating to 3.8 million hectares of rehabilitated land.