The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) stopped working on a project to construct a dam in the Hawtat Bani Tamim district in Riyadh for the preservation of two ancient Acacia trees.
The Saudi environmental activist, Muhammad bin Saleh, said that the Ministry officials in the district had come to the project site and stopped the construction works as the contractor was working on moving the two trees in a “primitive” way that caused damage to one of these trees. Saleh added that the transport work had stopped and the contractor had been directed to employ a specialized company to move the trees to ensure their safety before returning to work on the project site.
It should be recalled that the Saudi environmental activist published a video of the damaged tree and he said that the contractor pulled it out and carried it “naked”, causing severe damage to it, and that the survival rate after being surrounded by soil and nutritious solutions does not exceed 25 percent. This positive initiative on the side of Mr. Saleh reflects the Saudi citizens’ awareness of the adverse effects of over-logging on the environment. Saleh also praised the intervention of the representatives of MEWA “The tree must be preserved and contractors and business owners should learn to respect the environment, especially the trees,” he commented.
The Saudis are increasingly interested in the environment and its elements. The burning of a long-standing tree earlier this month in Al-Quwaiya district in Riyadh provoked angry reactions from many environmentalists in the Kingdom. It ended with a formal intervention aimed at repairing the damage to the tree and reviving it.
One of the measures, Saudi Arabia has earlier taken is imposing fines on any environmental violations may be up to SAR50,000 in accordance with the damages caused, and doubling the penalty if it is repeated and the damage caused by the violation shall be repaired as far as possible.
Saudi Arabia also works on a long-term government plan targeting a systematic preservation of the environment, in which the society and its institutions participate. The Saudi cabinet decided last month to establish and protect four government centers specialized in meteorology, the preservation of environment, the development of vegetation cover and wildlife, and combating desertification.
The establishment of the new centers culminated in the work of a government team comprising several ministries on the preparation of an environmental strategy aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of the environmental sector, raising the level of environmental commitment of all sectors of development, reducing pollution and negative impacts on the environment, and developing the natural vegetation cover, combating desertification, and preservation of wildlife and biodiversity.
This official interest in the environment sector and the Saudi government plans for it, is supported by the Saudi environmentalists who have been advocating for years for setting environmental plans and strategies, their benefits to Saudi Arabia society to include improving the climate and minimizing the serious repercussions of climate change, purifying air, and raising the quality of life and health. Saudi Arabia last month unveiled four mega-projects in Riyadh worth SAR86bn ($23bn), including the creation of the world’s largest park and the planting of more than 7 million trees.