Egypt’s 100 million trees

Mahmoud Bakr , Thursday 25 Aug 2022

Egypt is planting 100 million trees nationwide to improve air quality and protect people’s health

Egypt s 100 million trees
Egypt s 100 million trees


A new presidential initiative called 100 Million Trees has been launched as part of Egypt’s focus on efforts to mitigate the repercussions of climate change. It also comes in tandem with preparations to host the 27th session of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh in November.

The initiative has identified 9,900 locations nationwide with a total area of 6,600 feddans that can be planted with trees, making them into forests and gardens thanks to modern propagation and irrigation methods.

The campaign is meant to double the per capita share of green spaces across the country, improve air quality and people’s health, and reduce greenhouse gases. It will also aim to recoup economic benefits from the trees, including wood and olive oil since some of them will be olive trees, said Yasmine Fouad, the minister of environment.

Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli has ordered that each governorate should pinpoint the streets, highways, and areas to be planted with trees, as well as the appropriate type of seedlings for each place and the areas that can be turned into parks and gardens.

Fouad said the Ministry of Environment would plant one million trees every year as part of programmes that include the presidential Decent Life initiative. The trees would be planted in polluted areas and along main roads, and greenhouses would be established in various governorates to propagate seedlings, she said. There will be another programme to plant trees in schools, universities, institutes, neighbourhoods, youth centres, and in other areas.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation is joining in the programme by planting palm trees, providing seedlings, and planting hardwood forests, of which there are 33 across Egypt, and providing the water needed for irrigation.

The Hengemlha (We Will Beautify It) Foundation for Sustainable Development, a NGO, will participate in planting 54,000 trees in all 27 governorates and 18,000 trees in the Sharqiya governorate, including olive, lemon, pomegranate, and mango trees. These will be planted in cooperation with the Decent Life initiative across Egypt, 2,000 in each governorate, because they do not consume much water.

Sayed Khalifa, head of the Agricultural Syndicate and secretary-general of the Federation of African Agricultural Engineers, said that the syndicate, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and the Egypt Love Coalition, planted 100,000 lemon, orange, tangerine, olive, and mulberry trees last year in schools and youth centres in all 27 governorates.

The syndicate is also participating in the 100 Million Trees initiative, Khalifa added. The types of trees will be decided according to the climatic conditions, soil type, and water resources in each governorate. The second phase of the initiative to plant a million fruit trees will begin in a few days in Port Said, he noted.

Khalifa said that he had discussed with Fayoum Governor Ahmed Al-Ansari ways to cooperate on the initiative as well as the organisation of awareness-raising seminars for the general public to inform them about the importance of planting trees and the threats posed by climate change and how to mitigate its effects.

He said that Fayoum has taken a number of measures in coordination with NGOs and volunteers in youth initiatives including launching the Trees Without Disasters initiative to plant fruit and decorative trees in streets, roundabouts, and at government institutions.

Magdi Allam, adviser to international NGO the World Climate Programme, lauded the presidential initiative, noting that it was like a “new lung” for every citizen and that the trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, should improve the climate.

Priority should be given to poorer, desert, and extremely hot areas, Allam suggested, proposing that the initiative start in Aswan and Upper Egypt due to its hot weather. He added that there are 26,000 km of water channels in this region and that these could provide sources of water and reduce costs.

The forest fires that Europe has witnessed this summer are related to climate change and global warming, he said. “The more trees we plant, the more oxygen is produced. Every car needs 14 to 15 trees to absorb its exhaust, but these 15 trees cost no more than LE500 to LE700.”

Mamdouh Rashwan, secretary-general of the Arab Union for Youth and the Environment, said that the initiative to plant fruit trees was an ideal way to reduce pollution and improve climatic conditions in the light of the current climate changes.

He said he had recently participated in planting more than 160 lemon, guava, olive and flowering trees in the Red Sea governorate with 70 participants from various African countries.

NGOs have a major role to play in the 100 Million Trees initiative, Rashwan stressed, explaining that the union had also previously taken part in a UN programme to plant a billion trees across the region.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 25 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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