JEDDAH — Saudi Arabian authorities have imposed a permanent ban on planting of palm trees along roads as well as in parks and gardens across the Kingdom.
This is part of the measures to prevent the spread of the red palm weevil and in line with the recommendation of the permanent committee concerned with the prevention of the red palm weevil in the Kingdom.
The committee, which was constituted as per a decision of the Council of Ministers, is headed by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, with membership of the ministries of interior; municipal and rural affairs and housing; finance; media and transport, in addition to various chambers of commerce and industry.
In a circular sent to emirs of all the 13 provinces of the Kingdom last month, the committee recommended a halt to the plantation of date palm trees as part of measures to prevent the spread of the red palm weevil as well as to maintain the level of low prevalence rates among the palm trees in the Kingdom.
Subsequently, the emirates directed the respective mayoralties and municipalities in all regions of the Kingdom as well as the contractors who have won contracts for such plantations not to plant palm trees in parks and roads.
It has been clarified in the circular that the ban will be applicable only to the plantation of date palm trees in future projects, without removing the already planted ones.
Nearly two years ago, the committee issued a directive to restrict and reduce the cultivation of palm trees on the roads. It also recommended at the time to preserve trees on roadsides and not to be subject to unfair mowing.
The committee also stressed that there won’t be any plantation of palm trees on median strips of roads and that the afforestation shall be restricted to the sidewalks.
Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, Eng. Saeed Al-Ghamdi, director of the branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Makkah region, said that the ministry called on all government agencies to coordinate with the ministry before implementing the projects of afforestation of gardens or roads within or outside the urban periphery, as well as at internal and external squares of government, civil and military establishments.
The ministry also stressed that trees and shrubs in public places, roads and parks in all regions of the Kingdom shall be cultivated in a way appropriate to the nature of each area for afforestation and not to plant any type of trees that are not consistent with the region’s environment and its nature.
He said that the ministry had prepared a list of the types of local plants with aesthetic advantages and environmental benefits appropriate for afforestation according to the climatic conditions of each region and called for adhering to afforestation projects, and not to cultivate exotic or harmful species.
The ministry also prepared a list of the most important native plants suitable for planting gardens, streets, courtyards, squares and city entrances.
In a related development, several social media users hailed the decision to impose a ban on plantation of palm trees on roadsides and parks, as the best way to contain the spread of the red palm weevil.
They said that this would give palm trees their true value of care, especially since its cultivation along roads and gardens always faces neglect and eventual death of many of the trees.
They emphasized that the date palm is a field tree and not intended for decoration, while highlighting the role of mayoralties in taking appropriate measures for its preservation.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs held a workshop with the participation of specialists from all mayoralties.
The workshop recommended preventing over-pruning of shrubs, and called on to comply with the directives issued by the ministry regarding preserving trees and not being exposed to them by unfair shearing.
It also underlined the need to focus on removing dead and damaged branches and overhanging branches that hinder traffic, and allow its natural growth without pruning.
The workshop emphasized that afforestation should take place within residential neighborhoods along roads on the side sidewalks after taking into account of the pedestrian paths.
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