RIYADH: Birds have always been a significant factor in the lifecycle of plants through their ability to transport seeds to new locations by unintentionally carrying them on their wings or claws.
Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment.
“The afforestation campaign will use drones to spread seasonal seeds over an area of 2 million square meters, creating a qualitative leap in the path of afforestation used in the Kingdom,” the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve told Arab News in a statement on Friday.
According to the reserve, the drones will distribute the seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally, and annually.
The reserve is working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.
According to the reserve’s statement: “The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks.
“It will also follow up on the health of the soil and the conditions of agricultural areas. The utilization of artificial intelligence techniques will, additionally, serve to study and analyze seasonal patterns of plants through the use of unique algorithms and software.”
Representatives from the local community, along with government agencies and volunteers also attended the launch, Eng. Mohammed Al Shaalan, the CEO of the Royal Natural Reserve, said.
“Today, the Kingdom is leading a global movement towards protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and launching continuous initiatives towards afforestation and the establishment of a green environment,” Al Shaalan said.
“We will strive to keep up with this goal publicized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are working hard to defy the obstacle of time by applying the best standards and techniques in developing the reserve and assisting the environment.”
Manzer H. Siddiqui, an associate professor at the botany department at King Saud University, also praised the campaign.
“This is a much-appreciated campaign towards afforestation and green initiative for environment protection,” he told Arab News.
Siddiqui said the citizens’ participation in preserving the environment is one of the most successful ways to reach green sustainability.
The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, previously known as the Al Taysiyah Natural Reserve, was founded in 2018 by a royal order to provide an organized and systemic approach to preserving and maintaining the area.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the “Saudi Green” and the “Middle East Green” initiatives in April to help protect nature and overcome environmental challenges.
These Initiatives aim to chart a path for Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.
The Kingdom will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, preserve marine life, while also combating pollution and land degradation. The ambitious initiative includes the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades.
The Saudi Green Initiative also aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through a renewable energy program that will generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.