It is estimated that for every new construction happening in Oman, at least one tree is cut while no new sapling is planted, which is likely to have serious repercussions on the environment.
Planting trees should be made priority before it is too late. Afforestation, which helps preserve environment and create a habitat for wildlife, can bring about cooler and wetter seasons, and mitigate the effects of climate change in the country.
“Afforestation is of prime importance even as we face climate change challenges that threaten the environment and natural reserves,” says Mohammed al Salti, Specialist, Awareness and Media, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs.
“Afforestation is a simple human reaction towards environment care. We should take this matter seriously and play a part in supporting the national efforts in environment protection and plant trees.”
In the Sultanate, the protection of natural habitats has been achieved through the environmental permit system implemented under the Royal Decree 10/82 (now replaced by Royal Decree 114/01) which seeks to strike a balance between the needs of development and environment.
Accordingly, industrial construction projects should be reviewed and certified by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) before it can commence construction.
When reviewing a proposed project, MECA will examine the possibility of damage to environment and ensure all measures are in place to minimise pollution from waste products before granting approval.
Oman is home to a variety of indigenous plants as well as medicinal plants, some of which are on the verge of extinction, according to experts.
The country has always been on the forefront in achieving a pollution-free environment even as the world is trying to combat the effects of global warming.
Oman has brought out a series of laws to protect the land and territorial waters against pollution and deforestation.
Deforestation can have an unfathomable impact on environment, the most dramatic impact being the loss of habitat for millions of species dwelling on trees and elsewhere.
More than 80 per cent of earth’s animals and plants live in forests. Many of them cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes and these species will finally end up becoming extinct.
The major reasons behind rampant deforestation is reckless action by humans who are destroying trees and other valuable plants.
“Besides intentional chopping for construction purposes, inadvertently we are causing serious damage to trees and small plants around us. For instance, trashing barbecue waste with fire in it near trees, harms them,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, the ultimate blame falls on the plastic bags we dump on the land which are used as landfills, harming the growth of trees by affecting their ability to absorb water and minerals from the soil.
“Taxing retailers and end-users for using plastic would be an ideal solution that can help curb the menace of non-biodegradable plastic material being dumped in the earth and sea,” says Her Highness Sayyida Tania bint Shabib al Said, President, Environment Society of Oman (ESO).
“Our religious beliefs too encourage planting trees. Being Muslims, we need to follow our Prophet (PBUH) who had always encouraged us to plant tree even it’s the last thing we do,” Al Salti added.