By Niki Charalambous
Nearly 5,000 trees have been planted in Nicosia in the last six months after a citizen’s group launched a project to combat climate change and make the capital greener, inspiring people across Cyprus to follow suit.
Islandwide, a little under 100,000 trees have been planted in the same period.
Called 300,000 Trees in Nicosia, the initiative was launched last August and met with an unexpectedly enthusiastic public and official response. The number in the name roughly mirrors the size of the capital’s population, with the aim eventually to plant as many trees as there are people.
Communities and municipalities are providing the space and the Forestry Department is supplying know-how and the trees for organised planting events. 100,000 Trees in Larnaca, launched in the wake of its Nicosia counterpart, is hosting three such events for Saturday, January 25 – in Athienou, Oroklini and Kiti in the Larnaca District.
The campaign has already planted 4,652 trees in Latchi, Lympia, Akamas Park, Dali, Flasou and Engomi.
Keith Parker, an arborist and member of the initiative said, “If people wish to purchase their own trees to plant on their own land then we can help them with advice as to what trees to get, how to plant them and how to look after them.
“We can direct them to a forestry contact where they will have to fill out the forms and apply to get trees from the Department of Forestry.”
Members of the team will be available to offer help with planting the seeds.
They want to stress the importance of planting the correct trees in the correct place to enhance the natural habitat and not destroy it.
“You’ve got to have trees that grow and survive. Trees that help the habitat and not destroy it. You’ve got to be smart with what you plant and where you plant it.”
Because they have a common mission, people from districts across the island collaborate in tree-planting events. The initiative’s aim is to mobilise communities not only to engage in tree planting but to promote the idea of community ownership of trees in public areas.
“This is a community effort, there’s no ownership. This remains in the realm of the citizens. The more people involved; the more people will take ownership of what they plant.”
The plantation of trees takes place in public unused areas, schools and private properties with the permission from the forestry department.
Councils will water the trees planted during the organised events for the next two to three years.
The forestry department has contributed 70,000 free trees through the similar programme. They gave free trees to schools, associations and municipalities and in the next year they will increase the number of free trees to 300,000.
“It’s a huge way of having an impact. We can’t stop now; we need to move forward and bring other people with us. That’s the way forward.”
For more information about the upcoming tree-planting events, click on the links provided: https://www.facebook.com/events/2470055816641301/