Juniper trees at Jabal al Akhdar under threat

Muscat, Sept 30 – Jabal al Akhdar is famous for its incredible views of gorges and valleys, pomegranate fields and juniper trees. The trees, however, have come under threat of late: both man-made and natural. According to Salim al Amri, Head of Nature Conservation Department, Directorate of Environment and Climate Affairs in Al Dakhiliyah, besides drought and global warming, fires — the reasons for which are not known as yet — have claimed a number of juniper trees at this picturesque location. “Many juniper trees have been destroyed by fires in different parts of Jabal al Akhdar and in the Eastern Mountain, near Jabal Shams,” Al Amri told the Observer. “But we don’t know the cause.”
One possible cause, he suspects, are tourists and visitors having campfires in the night or preparing barbecue under these trees. “After partying, they fail to put out the fire, which destroys the entire tree.”
Al Amri said these trees, once lost, can’t be replaced. “Apart from this possibility, we can’t think of any other reason for the destruction of juniper trees. However, some burned trees have been found in areas inaccessible to humans. This could be attributed to biological or geological reasons,” he said.
Al Amri said the Department of Environment has launched a campaign to educate people on the importance of juniper trees. It held a seminar that recommended conservation of these trees.
“We had discussions with the Royal Oman Police (ROP). We conducted an awareness camp in Jabal al Akhdar with participation from the youth.”
Dawood al Balushi, Editor-in-Chief of Lynx Magazine and an official at the Office for Conservation of the Environment, rued the destruction of juniper trees at Jabal al Akhdar.
“Such a negative behaviour is a threat to the Sultanate’s ecosystem. These irresponsible practices destroy our national treasure.”
Talking about the country’s efforts to maintain the green cover, he said, “Jabal al Akhdar has been declared a protected landscape. There are also programmes to combat desertification and re-cultivate local plants in order to preserve them from extinction.” He, however, said these efforts “cannot succeed unless everyone takes responsibility”.

Zainab al Nassri