A massive tree planting initiative by a Nicosia citizen’s group has begun to inspire people in other districts, with the public and official response so far being “surprisingly positive”, a member of the ‘300,000 trees in Nicosia’ group told the Cyprus Mail.
The Nicosia action, set to begin in the autumn, “is an ambitious project – the population of Nicosia is around 300,000 people, so it’s a tree for every person,” Nicos Philippou said on Friday.
In an urban setting saturated with concrete, planting 300,000 trees may at first seem unfathomable, “but we’ve been getting positive responses from communities and municipalities that will provide space, and the forestry department will offer its tree-planting know-how,” Philippou added.
The group was also approached by the environment commissioner, Ioanna Panayiotou, who Philippou said interrupted her holiday to meet with members of the group on Tuesday to discuss the initiative and ways to implement it.
“The project will develop in phases and at specific locations,” Philippou said, noting that the public will be kept informed at every stage through announcements published on the group’s Facebook page.
“The final strategy plan will be announced next week,” he added.
The group’s first meeting in Nicosia on August 6 drew over 80 people.
Two days later, the seed spread to Paphos with a new page, ‘100,000 trees in Paphos’ sprouting on Facebook. The first meeting of the Paphos venture is set to take place on August 20 at Technopolis 20.
The Nicosia group will soon be launching a social media campaign to encourage the public to plant trees in their gardens or balconies, before posting photos accompanied by the hashtag which will be announced soon.
The idea, it seems, is to mobilise Cyprus society at all levels for a greener island.
As the effects of climate change are becoming increasingly pronounced, many around the globe are looking to reforestation and greener cities to tackle global warming symptoms such as soil corrosion, desertification, and unbearable temperatures in cities.
The issue is becoming increasingly urgent. According to the World Meteorological Organisation, July was the warmest month in recorded human history.
Trees absorb carbon dioxide which can help stop rising temperatures, while also keeping soil moist, reducing the risk of flooding. A recent study by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich found that the planet has nearly 9 million square kilometers to spare for trees, one trillion of which are needed to give humanity some breathing room in light of climate change effects.
“Cyprus, and especially the plains around Nicosia, are already facing the effects of global warming in the form of extended heatwave periods,” the group said in a post on its Facebook page. “Scientific projections are sketching a very unpleasant picture for the future with rising temperatures and a process of desertification reshaping the Cypriot landscape in the next few decades.”
“We do not wish to sit back and watch the effects of climate change destroy our habitats and make life on the island unbearable,” the group said, expressing the hope that other towns and communities will follow.