Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
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It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers. (AN Photo/Haifa Alshammari)
Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
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“Lighting is also important, as each plant differs in terms of its need for lighting.” said Haitham Sharbaji. (AN Photo/Haifa Alshammari)
Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
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According to an agricultural technician, there is a type of soil suitable for house plants as well as another type for outdoor plants. (AN Photo/Haifa Alshammari)
Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
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It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers. (AN Photo/Haifa Alshammari)
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Updated 13 April 2024
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Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
  • The foundation of a successful garden is soil health
  • It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers

RIYADH: Caring for plants at home reduces stress and increases satisfaction. Gardening allows people to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of their home garden.
However, it is important to use sustainable methods to ensure that plants are healthy, and the environment is protected from damage. Soil preservation and care are therefore very important for sustainable gardening.
The foundation of a successful garden is soil health. It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
Compost food scraps, garden waste and other organic products to improve soil fertility will provide nutrients to plants, increasing microbial activity and boosting the health of the soil.
“Synthetic fertilizers aren’t used in the Kingdom. It is rare. Most people use organic products such as animal waste mixed with food waste,” said Haitham Sharbaji, an agricultural technician who works in Riyadh.
Sharbaji, who operates his own nursery, explained how different plants require specific techniques.
When asked about examples of plants that are grown in hot, dry weather like in Saudi Arabia, he mentioned trees including poinciana, racosperma and oleander. According to Sharbaji, these species are especially suitable for the weather in Riyadh.
He highlighted the importance of planting trees in healthy soil.
“Firstly, the soil must be healthy and suitable for the type of plant you want to grow. For example, there are kinds of soil for indoor plants and others for outdoor plants,” Sharbaji said.
“Lighting is also important, as each plant differs in terms of its need for lighting.”
Another method gardeners can use to prevent soil depletion is controlling the rotation of plants. Rotating plants grown in different areas of a garden helps reduce diseases and pests, and prevents nutrient deficiencies.
In addition to changing the position of the plant, covering it with a layer of organic mulch like wood chips or leaves helps maintain soil health. This technique captures moisture as well as moderates the temperature of the soil, which in turn improves the structure of the soil. Over time, it enriches the soil with beneficial organisms.
Chemical pesticides are another tool to avoid or reduce, as they can harm beneficial insects, damage organisms in the soil and disrupt the garden’s ecosystem. Natural pest control methods like introducing insects such as ladybugs and lacewings are a useful alternative.
Water in Saudi Arabia is a precious resource for growing any plant, and using it efficiently is vital. An optimal way to regulate watering plants is to install drip irrigation systems to control the amount of water that is used and deliver it directly to the roots.
People should be mindful of the hot climate in the Kingdom, which may speed up the evaporation of water. Therefore, watering the garden late in the afternoon or evening hours reduces water loss because of low temperatures.
“Water is the biggest enemy for indoor plant soil. The soil that is prepared for indoor plants doesn’t need too much water because it can create toxic fungi,” said Sharbaji.
He recommends watering indoor plants according to room temperatures. Generally speaking, a person can water an indoor plant every 15 to 20 days, he added.
Excessive use of synthetic fertilizers can lead to nutrient imbalance and environmental pollution. It is best to test soil regularly to detect any signs of nutrient deficiencies such as decolorization of leaves or irregular shapes.
Synthetic fertilizers can be useful but only when necessary, and they must be used wisely. This ensures the plant receives the nutrients it needs while minimizing the risk of biomagnification — the increase in concentration of a substance in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain.
By practicing sustainable gardening practices, people can grow and protect their gardens while maintaining soil health. Healthy soil preparation, mulching and natural pest control methods are some examples of healthy gardening, keeping in mind that a thriving garden starts with the soil.


How forest conservation is helping Saudi Arabia achieve its green objectives

How forest conservation is helping Saudi Arabia achieve its green objectives
Updated 18 May 2024
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How forest conservation is helping Saudi Arabia achieve its green objectives

How forest conservation is helping Saudi Arabia achieve its green objectives
  • By planting trees and protecting forests, the Kingdom promotes biodiversity and sustainable development
  • Forests provide habitats for hundreds of animal species and play a pivotal role in combating climate change 

JEDDAH: With its low annual rainfall, much of Saudi Arabia’s vast landscape is covered by desert, broken by occasional oases. In its mountainous regions, valleys, and along its coastline, however, the Kingdom is home to multiple forest ecosystems.

Forests play a pivotal role in combating climate change by acting as carbon sinks — storing carbon both above and below ground, thereby extracting it from the atmosphere, where it would otherwise contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Their significance in climate change adaptation and mitigation is also underscored by their role in creating local microclimates, providing habitats for a wealth of biodiversity, locking in freshwater resources, and preventing flash floods, landslides, and soil degradation.

Riyadh residents take part in a tree-planting project as part of the Greener Home initiative. (@Riyadh_Green/File)

Saudi Arabia’s National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification is at the forefront of implementing the Kingdom’s strategic goals outlined in Vision 2030.

“Forests play a crucial role in mitigating climate change,” Samir Malaika, assistant director-general of the general administration of forests at NCVC told Arab News. “Saudi Arabia’s dry climate and geography hinder its efforts to conserve forests and promote plant growth.

“With most areas receiving minimal rainfall, forests struggle to thrive. The escalating impact of climate change exacerbates environmental stressors, hampering forest growth and regeneration efforts.”

The NCVC aims to elevate living standards by reducing pollution and facilitating the restoration of degraded environments. It is also committed to building resilience against natural hazards and defenses against harmful pests that could pose risks to vegetation.

Simultaneously, it prioritizes the sustainable development of the Kingdom’s natural resources. With seven ongoing initiatives, it aims to ensure the responsible and lasting utilization of resources in line with the nation’s sustainability objectives.

Among the center’s key initiatives under the Saudi Green Initiative is a scheme to plant some 10 billion trees — representing a significant step in the Kingdom’s reforestation effort.

The initiative for forest management and sustainable development by 2030 underscores a long-term commitment to nurturing and preserving woodland environments.

The phased approach to preserving and restoring vegetation in pasture areas reflects a strategic focus on addressing the specific ecological challenges faced by different ecosystems.

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Furthermore, the initiative for developing vegetation and infrastructure for 50 national parks highlights the importance of creating protected natural spaces while promoting biodiversity and ecotourism.

Moreover, the initiative to plant 7 million wild trees in royal reserves demonstrates a targeted effort to enhance the natural habitats within these pristine areas.

Engagement by the public and private sectors in vegetation development and combating desertification underscores the collaborative approach needed in order to achieve sustainable environmental goals.

One initiative of the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification with the aim of achieving sustainable forest management is to tap local community participation in agroforestry projects and by promotingecotourism. (Photo Courtesy: NCVC)

By harnessing the collective resources and expertise of various stakeholders, these initiatives aim to create a resilient and thriving ecosystem that benefits both present and future generations.

According to Malaika, Saudi Arabia boasts a forest coverage spanning approximately 2,768,050 hectares, primarily concentrated in the southern and southwestern regions, along riverbeds, and on the coastlines of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

These forest ecosystems are categorized into three primary types: mountain, valley, and mangrove.

Mountain forests

Mountain forests are predominantly located in the region spanning the Hijaz Mountains in Taif to Jazan in the south. These areas have neutral soil acidity and receive the highest rainfall and humidity levels, particularly evident in the southwest with denser forest cover.

The juniper tree has proudly stood as a symbol of picturesque beauty in Al-Baha region, adorning its slopes and mountain peaks with vibrant green hues. (SPA)

Forests are made up of several Juniperus plant species, typically found at altitudes of 2,000 meters and above. Additionally, Olea chrysophylla forests, characterized by wild olive trees with golden leaves, thrive at altitudes of 1,500 to 2,000 meters.

At lower altitudes, between 1,000 to 1,500 meters, Acacia plant species dominate the landscape.

Notably, terraced agriculture is a common feature of mountainous regions, facilitating crop fruit tree cultivation while aiding in water retention and soil protection. However, improper management can lead to land degradation, adversely affecting the surrounding forests.

DID YOUKNOW?

• Saudi Arabia is home to more than 63 unique ecosystems, ranging from mountainous regions to coastal lowlands.

• The Kingdom boasts a diverse array of wildlife, including 78 terrestrial mammal species and 499 species of bird.

• Coral reefs in Saudi Arabian waters host an impressive 266 species, contributing to marine biodiversity.

• With more than 6,500 species, Saudi Arabia’s invertebrate population testifies to the richness of its ecosystems.

• Saudi Arabia boasts three distinct forest ecosystems: mountain forest, valley forest, and mangrove forest.

Valley forests

Saudi Arabia’s topography features 179 valleys distributed across the country. Valley forests, mainly situated in semi-arid regions, are characterized by species such as Acacia ehrenbergiana, Acacia tortilis, Maerua crassifolia, several species of Commiphora, and Salvadora persica.

Additionally, oases and valleys are abundant with various Acacia species, Ziziphus spina-christi, Salvadora persica, Haloxylon persicum, trees, shrubs, and Hyphaene thebaica. 

Saudi Arabia’s topography features 179 valleys distributed across the country. (AN file photo)

Mangrove forests

Mangroves and coastal ecosystems tolerant to saltwater are predominantly located along the Red Sea coast, with other stretches found along the Arabian Gulf coast.

Despite the lack of comprehensive forest data, studies indicate significant degradation of the mangrove ecosystem.

Avicennia marina is the most prevalent species in mangrove forests, with Rhizophora mucronata being less common.

Besides these natural forests, the Kingdom is also host to many urban and cultivated woodlands in its parks and residential neighborhoods, planted to provide shade, reduce temperatures, and beautify city streets.

Despite the Kingdom’s diverse ecosystems, it faces significant challenges in preserving and expanding its forests, including limited resources, poor local management, insufficient nursery production to meet seedling demand, a lack of awareness about dumping and unauthorized grazing, and other irresponsible human activities.

The Saudi National Center for Wildlife is working to protect, develop, and restore ecosystems and biodiversity around the Kingdom, in addition to addressing risks related to plant and animal life.

Red Sea Global implemented a nursery project with the goal to have 50 million trees of Mangroves by 2030. (Red Sea Global photo/File)

According to Abdulmanea Al-Qahtani, invertebrates department director at the NCW, the Kingdom has 63 distinct ecosystems, encompassing a diverse range of landscapes, including mountains, plains, deserts, valleys, forests, seas, wetlands, plateaus, coastal areas, and marshes, all teeming with biodiversity.

The Kingdom is home to 78 species of terrestrial mammal, 499 species of bird, 136 species of reptile, seven species of amphibian, and more than 6,500 species of invertebrate.

In its waters, the Kingdom also offers habitats to 19 species of marine mammal, eight species of freshwater fish, 1,248 species of saltwater fish, and 266 species of coral

Unknown to many, Saudi Arabia is home to 78 species of terrestrial mammal, 499 species of bird, 136 species of reptile, seven species of amphibian, and more than 6,500 species of invertebrate. (NCW collage image)

The Saudi Green Initiative, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021 under the Vision 2030 framework, aims to tackle threats to this rich biodiversity and foster sustainable development.

Key goals include transitioning to a sustainable economy by reducing carbon emissions, boosting renewable energy production, and bolstering conservation efforts.

Additionally, the initiative aims to enhance environmental protection, promote green technologies, and create green jobs to drive economic diversification and growth.
 

 


Saudi fund signs two loan agreements, inaugurates Hulhumale Island development in Maldives

Saudi fund signs two loan agreements, inaugurates Hulhumale Island development in Maldives
Updated 17 May 2024
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Saudi fund signs two loan agreements, inaugurates Hulhumale Island development in Maldives

Saudi fund signs two loan agreements, inaugurates Hulhumale Island development in Maldives
  • Al-Marshad participated in the partial inauguration of the Hulhulmale Island Development Project

MALE: CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development Sultan bin Abdulrahman Al-Marshad signed on Friday two development loan agreements with the Maldives’ Minister of Finance Dr. Mohammed Shafiq. These agreements will contribute to financing the Velana International Airport development project with a value of $100 million and the healthcare sector development project in the Maldives with a value of $50 million, provided by fund.

Additionally, Al-Marshad participated in the partial inauguration of the Hulhulmale Island Development Project, which the SFD is contributing to financing through a soft development loan worth $80 million. The event was also attended by Saudi Ambassador to the Maldives Matrek bin Abdullah Al-Ajalin.

 

 


King Salman issues royal order to promote 26 judges

King Salman issues royal order to promote 26 judges
Updated 17 May 2024
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King Salman issues royal order to promote 26 judges

King Salman issues royal order to promote 26 judges

RIYADH: King Salman issued a royal order on Friday to promote 26 judges at the Board of Grievances, Saudi Press Agency reported.

President of the Board of Grievances and Administrative Judicial Council Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Yousef said that the royal order confirmed the keenness of the Kingdom’s leadership to support the judiciary to develop its performance and achieve quality and efficiency.

Earlier this month, the king issued a royal decree on Saturday to appoint 261 investigative lieutenants at the Ministry of Justice’s Public Prosecution.


Makkah workshop focuses on geospatial data

Makkah workshop focuses on geospatial data
Updated 17 May 2024
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Makkah workshop focuses on geospatial data

Makkah workshop focuses on geospatial data
  • Several distinguished surveyors were also honored for their outstanding performance in recent training sessions

MAKKAH: “The Future of Geospatial Information Using Artificial Intelligence Techniques” was the title of a workshop hosted at the Makkah municipality theater recently.

Held by the Kingdom’s Geographic Information Systems section, the event included a presentation that highlighted the project’s services and achievements, along with its aims of enhancing land inventory and documentation efficiency in Makkah.

It also reviewed the use of artificial intelligence in information analysis and problem-solving. Several distinguished surveyors were also honored for their outstanding performance in recent training sessions.

 


Saudi Islamic affairs minister inaugurates mosques

Saudi Islamic affairs minister inaugurates mosques
Updated 17 May 2024
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Saudi Islamic affairs minister inaugurates mosques

Saudi Islamic affairs minister inaugurates mosques
  • Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh said: “Contributing to building and caring for mosques is a good deed that earns people rewards”

ARAR: Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh inaugurated the Al-Hanouf Al-Zwain and Ali Mohammed Al-Melhem mosques in the city of Arar as part of a visit to the area to inspect work progress.

The ministry’s undersecretaries and several department directors, as well as the director of the ministry’s branch in the Northern Borders region, Fahd bin Sulaiman Al-Khalifa, attended the event.

Al-Asheikh toured the two mosques, and was briefed on their construction in the Salmani architectural style, as well as their associated facilities and services.

He said: “Contributing to building and caring for mosques is a good deed that earns people rewards.”

The minister added that the Kingdom, since the era of King Abdulaziz until today under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has given great importance to mosques.

Al-Asheikh prayed for the reward of those who built the mosques, and for the maintenance of Saudi Arabia’s security and stability.