FAO: Growing interest by regional states in planting trees to improve water quality and increase food security
Middle Eastern countries are showing growing interest in planting trees to improve water quality and boost food security, FAO said earlier this week.
"Although forest cover is low, afforestation and green landscaping are gaining ground in the Near East, despite harsh climatic conditions," said Hosny El-Lakany, FAO Assistant Director-General for Forestry.
"Planted trees not only help the region to have better quality water but trees serve as windbreaks and shelterbelts against desertification," he conveyed.
Forest cover in the region amounts to around 110 million hectares, equivalent to 5.9 percent of the land area.
The overall forest cover in the region declined by slightly less than 1 million hectares per annum in the last decade. Six countries of the region recorded a drop in forest cover.
Sudan accounts for more than half of the total forest area in the region. For all other countries, forests on the average account for less than 3 percent of the total land area.
FAO estimates that 8.3 million hectares are planted forests in the region. Iran and Turkey account for almost half of the total planted forests, which represent 5.5 percent of the region's total forest area.
Forests in the region also provide some 2 million cubic metres of wood products and more than $100 million worth of exported non-wood forest products such as gum arabic, cork, pistachios and honey.
In a region that is the most water scarce in the world with only around 2.2 percent of global renewable water resources, the sustainable management of forests is key to improving water security and alleviating poverty, FAO said.
An increasing number of countries in the region, including Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, have started using treated waste water to irrigate forest plantations and greenbelts. (menareport.com)
© 2004 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)