Saudi tourism body to launch ninth season of Green Arabian Peninsula project

The results showed that the Arabian desert’s difficult circumstances affected fossil formation and changed their appearances. (Social media)
Updated 06 November 2019

Saudi tourism body to launch ninth season of Green Arabian Peninsula project

  • The study concluded in previous seasons that the oldest migrations from Africa were not heading only towards the Levant, but also to the inside of the Arabian Peninsula

RIYADH: The national heritage sector at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is preparing to launch the ninth season of the “Green Arabian Peninsula” scientific project, in partnership with the King Saud University, the Saudi Geological Survey, the Max Planck Society, Oxford University and the University of Queensland.

Rustom bin Maqbool Al-Kubaisi, deputy chairman of the national heritage sector at SCTH, said that the commission values the project due to its important discoveries.

“The most valuable of these discoveries was a group of 85,000-year-old human footprints found in the Nefud Desert. This astonishing finding shows the spread of man outside Africa and his arrival to the Arabian Peninsula. A single human finger bone was also unearthed at an ancient lake site called Al-Wusta in Taima province, proving that the region was a lush grasslands dotted by hundreds of freshwater lakes.”

He added that the project involves several personnel from the antiquities sector, the Saudi Geological Survey, archeologists from King Saud University and some Saudi university students.

The director general of the archaeological research and studies center at the SCTH, Dr. Abdullah Al Zahrani, said: “Human migration from Africa is a main subject in the study of human development, where the lands of the Kingdom have an important role due to its geographical location between the continents.”

He added: “Due to the importance of the Red Sea region as the corner where mankind inhibited at the beginning of the Ice Age, the results of the latest research show that wild environments had a decisive significance in the spread of mankind and their attempts to expand during the improved periods of the Ice Age, where the area was rich in its biodiversity and full of rivers, lakes, meadows and plains.”

Over the past two years, several studies have been conducted via the stable isotopeon fossils connected with stone tools, marks of bone cutting and recently-discovered butchery tools. The results have revealed the presence of similar circumstances to the current Savanna in east Africa, which hints to the spread of mankind in the region and their quick adaptation in the area.

The results also showed that the Arabian desert’s difficult circumstances affected fossil formation and changed their appearances.

The study concluded in previous seasons that the oldest migrations from Africa were not heading only towards the Levant, but also to the inside of the Arabian Peninsula, where these studies give deep insights about the interaction of mankind, animals and the environment.

 


Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

Awareness campaigns highlight the importance of trees. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 February 2020

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year

  • The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and tree logging.
Trees help stop desertification because they are a stabilizer of soil. In the Arabian Peninsula, land threatened by desertification ranges from 70 to 90 percent. A national afforestation campaign was launched in Saudi Arabia last October, and there is a national plan set to run until this April.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that although natural vegetation across the country had suffered in the past four decades, modern technologies such as satellites and drones could be used to track down individuals or businesses harming the Kingdom’s vegetation.
“Harsh penalties should be imposed on violators such as the seizure or confiscation of transport and hefty fines,” Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sugair, chairman of the Environmental Green Horizons Society, told Arab News.
These were long-term solutions and they needed coordination with authorities to ensure warehouses and markets did not stock logs or firewood, he said. Another solution was sourcing an alternative product from overseas that was of high quality and at a reasonable price. A third was to provide support to firewood and coal suppliers.
“The general public needs to be more aware of the importance of trees and should have a strong sense of responsibility toward these trees,” Al-Sugair added.
“They should also stop buying firewood in the market. We can also encourage investment in wood production through agricultural holdings as well as implement huge afforestation projects and irrigate them from treated sewage water.”
The fine for cutting down a tree can reach SR5,000 ($1,333) while the fine for transporting logs is SR10,000. These fines could not be implemented as they should be because there were no available staff to monitor and catch violators and, to make matters worse said Al-Sugair, there was a weak level of coordination between authorities.
Most of the Kingdom’s regions have suffered in some way from tree felling, and some places no longer have trees. These violations are rampant in the south and Madinah regions, as well as in Hail and Al-Nafud Desert.
Riyadh is the most active and the largest market for firewood. Many people in Al-Qassim use firewood as do restaurants in some parts of Saudi Arabia.
Omar Al-Nefaee, a microbiology professor at the Ministry of Education in Taif, said the reason behind the widescale destruction of the environment could be attributed to a supply shortage of imported firewood.
“Tree logging causes an environmental disequilibrium,” he told Arab News. “The Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water has launched an initiative raising public awareness on the issue and is asking people not to use local firewood. Several awareness campaigns have been launched for the same purpose to educate people about the importance of using imported wood instead of the local wood in order to protect the Kingdom’s vegetation.”
Official reports warn that the Kingdom has lost 80 percent of its vegetation and that the drop will have a detrimental effect on its biodiversity, as well as causing great damage to the environment.
The general public should use other heating options during the winter and stop using firewood, Al-Nefaee said.
Some local studies have called for farms that can produce wood from plants that do not consume too much water and do not affect vegetation, while at the same time reducing the pressure on other regions in the Kingdom that are rich in animal resources.
Falih Aljuhani, who runs a business that imports wood from Georgia, encouraged Saudi firms to import wood from the Balkans because it was a competitive market and the trees had low carbon percentages.