Saudi forests dwindling at alarming rate

Updated 21 March 2014

Saudi forests dwindling at alarming rate

Forests in Saudi Arabia cover only 1.3 percent of the country’s total area. Unfortunately, the forests in Saudi Arabia are dwindling and witnessing degradation at an alarming rate, according to an environmental advocate at King Saud University (KSU).
Prof. Mirza Baig, a Canadian professor, made his observation on the occasion of the International Day of Forest (IDF) celebrated globally every March 21, by the decision of the United Nations General Assembly uniting the two international commemorations; the World Forestry Day and Forest Day.
Baig, at KSU’s Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Society told Arab News that Saudi Arabia’s forest degradation is because of the natural factors and anthropogenic features like very low and variable rainfall, high temperatures, low humidity, lack of rivers and scarcity of underground water.
“All these factors hamper the natural growth of forests making tree planting programs very expensive,” he noted adding, “The excessive cutting of trees, overgrazing, deforestation, deterioration of natural pastures and expansion of agricultural lands are considered among the main challenges for sustainable development of the forests in Saudi Arabia.
According to him, several projects were initiated with the objective to grow more trees, re-plant forests and to realize more wood from the existing forests in the Kingdom. However such initiatives would not be successful without the involvement of the native people. He added that several studies conducted by Dr. Faisal Sultan Al-Subaiee, vice dean at the KSU, revealed that Saudis have a lot of appreciation and liking for forests attaching great importance to them.
“They seem more than willing to assist the Kingdom and participate in the initiatives aimed at managing and protecting the forests to keep them productive and protected for their future generations,” he said.
The series of studies conducted in the last decade by Dr. Al-Subaiee further revealed that regardless of the economic and literary status of Saudis, they were quite eager to be a part of the initiatives that could protect their natural heritage and the precious natural resource.
“Surprisingly, people living near the forests were quite aware of the potential environmental, ecological and economic benefits of the forests. They were eager to learn more scientific and technical advanced techniques needed for the better management of the forests from all the stake-holders,” the study said.
The professor continued, “World forestry day celebrations provide an opportunity to all the stake-holders to learn more from each other about the potential benefits of the forests toward maintaining people’s well-being.”
Appreciating the initiative taken by the UN, Saudi Arabia facilitates the implementation of the International Day in collaboration with FAO, collaborative partnerships on forests and international and regional organizations, as well as relevant stakeholders, including civil society.
Around 1.6 billion people — including more than 2,000 indigenous cultures — make their living from forests, which covers roughly one-third of the earth’s land mass.

DiplomaticQuarter: Chinese envoy, Saudi minister discuss ways to strengthen ties

Updated 36 min 7 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Chinese envoy, Saudi minister discuss ways to strengthen ties

  • Saudi Arabia and China are comprehensive strategic partners with strong trade exchanges

RIYADH: Chinese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing called on Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh at his office in Riyadh, where they exchanged views on strengthening mutual cooperation.

Discussed at the meeting were issues of mutual interest to enhance bilateral cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

After the meeting, the Chinese ambassador tweeted: “I was honored to meet with the minister of Islamic affairs, and we exchanged views on strengthening the dialogue on civilizations and friendship between people of the two countries and issues of common interests.”

Earlier, Weiqing met Abdul Aziz Al-Owaisheq, assistant secretary-general for political affairs and negotiations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

He was accompanied by his delegation of officials from the Chinese Embassy in Riyadh.

During the meeting, they discussed ways to enhance joint cooperation, in accordance with the agreements signed within the framework of the strategic partnership between the two sides. 

They also discussed the latest developments in regional and international politics, issues of common interest, and their upcoming joint meetings.

Commenting on the meeting, the Chinese ambassador tweeted: “I am pleased to exchange views with the assistant secretary-general for political affairs and negotiations of the GCC about developing relationship between China and the council.”

Saudi Arabia and China are comprehensive strategic partners with strong trade exchanges and are keen on continuing their close bilateral relations and developing them into a long-term strategic partnership protecting mutual interests. 

Saudi Arabia is one of China’s top crude oil suppliers and an important market for its exports.