Environment Commissioner Maria Panayiotou said on Wednesday that the latest round of government-sponsored tree planting initiatives, which involves planting 11,000 trees and shrubs, “is not just ordinary tree planting”.

“It is a collective effort which aims to bring about tangible positive results as well as the specific good practices which will mitigate the impacts of climate change,” she said.

“Cyprus, and the Eastern Mediterranean region in general, is under intense pressure from the impacts of climate change. This further increases the levels of vulnerability of areas at risk of desertification.”

She said the utilisation of scientific knowledge on such critical environmental issues and the strengthening of environmental consciousness were a priority for the government.

“The initiative we are announcing today … is an important step in this direction. We will start planting 11,000 deep-rooted trees and shrubs gradually until 2026,” she said.

She said the areas targeted for planting were degraded rural areas at risk of desertification in the Nicosia and Larnaca districts which were estimated to become even more at risk due to the consequences of climate change.

“However, to see positive results in this initiative, we need the active involvement of volunteers. We are inviting organised groups and individual residents to become a part of this remarkable effort,” she added.

Individuals and groups will be able to register between December 15 and the end of February to take part in tree planting efforts. The first of these efforts will take place in the areas of Denia, Peristerona, Malounta and Kiti.

“The planting of trees is not only an act of protecting the environment but also an educational process through which volunteers redefine their relationship with the environment and inspire others, especially the next generation, with the example they set,” Panayioutou said.

“After all, with every tree we plant, we deepen the roots of our future.”