By Mehdi Garshasbi

Count on planting trees to combat drought

April 23, 2023 - 18:18

TEHRAN - Iran is located in an arid and semi-arid belt and has been suffering from drought and low rainfall in recent years.

In proportion to the country’s land area, the area of forests and green spaces are very small, and many of them have been already destroyed.

Considering that Iran is one of the countries with low vegetation and only seven percent of its total area is covered with forests, the need to increase the country's green space is very important.

One of the very important reasons for increasing the country's vegetation is that Iran is the seventh carbon-producing country in the world and in terms of carbon absorption, Iran has a very low rank.

Due to the importance of the per capita increase in Iran's green spaces, a campaign titled "Green Iran, Strong Iran" and a national program for planting one billion saplings over the course of four years were launched.

Experts say tree planting is a climate change solution that doesn’t require scientists to come up with technological solutions to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. It is available now. It is the cheapest one possible and every one of us can get involved.

The national budget bill for the current Iranian calendar year (March 2023-March 2024) has allocated a special line of credit for planting trees.

These credits are used for tree planting and annual maintenance, ILNA quoted Abbas-Ali Nobakht, head of the Forests, Rangelands, and Watershed Management Organization, as saying.

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said: “If each Iranian plants three saplings, the government's goal to plant one billion saplings over the next four years will be realized.”

Over the past years, the environment has been damaged by various natural and human factors, and the main priority in planting one billion trees is to restore nature, Nobakht said.

On March 6 which marked National Tree Planting Day, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the importance of planting saplings in preserving the environment, emphasizing that with the help of the people, it is possible to plant one billion saplings.

Experts believe that in addition to planting fruit trees, trees that produce wood should be planted because the export of wood has a significant effect on the country's economy, the Leader stressed.

Last year, Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized the need to develop non-fossil sources of energy, including renewables, and expand activities to protect the environment.

The destruction of forests and the environment and vegetation is equivalent to the degradation of national interests, and the depletion of part of the forests for construction, except in emergencies, is definitely to the detriment of the nation, he explained.

The Leader further called on people to plant and protect trees, saying that doing such important work requires national support. Tree planting is among the activities that can prevent the disappearance of forests around and inside cities through expanding vegetation cover.

In January, Nobakht said one of the serious tasks toward protecting the environment is to preserve the two natural assets and vital reserves, namely water and soil, and to avoid taking them for granted. In this line, authorities must pay attention to expert points of view.”

“Considering the climatic conditions of the country, low per capita green space, and the fact that Iran is among the countries with low forestation rate, we are obliged to produce and plant one billion saplings in a four-year period.”

The expansion of the country's green space and paying more attention to natural resources and the environment is not a new issue, he said, adding that the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, the President, and the Minister of Agriculture have always emphasized the need to promote the issue of tree planting and sapling planting.

In this line, mining organizations and industrial companies should be committed to participating in the sapling planting programs, he stressed.

Mostafa Jalili, an official with Natural Resources and Watershed Management Organization, has said that a budget amounting to 2.27 trillion rials (about $4.5 million) is projected to be spent on forestation plans.

The national budget bill for the current Iranian calendar year has also allocated the budget for dealing with wind erosion as well as sand and dust storms, IRNA quoted Jalili as saying.

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