(MENAFN - Gulf Times) Each April 22, the world marks Earth Day, an annual celebration that honours the achievements of the environmental movement and raises awareness and actions for ecological conservation. This year, we celebrate its 51st anniversary, themed Restore Our Earth, focusing on environmental restoration.
A brainchild of the late American Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin and spurred by environmental disturbances across the USA, Earth Day was envisioned in 1969 to convince the US federal government that the planet's future was at stake.
During this period, protecting the planet's natural resources was not embedded into national and global policy-making agendas, nor was environmental activism as widespread as it is today. Massive gas-guzzling cars were considered a mark of class and economic prosperity, as opposed to an environmental liability, and recycling was virtually non-existent.
In the era of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, integrations of environmental policies into national policymaking and visions, such as Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030), and electric automobiles that aim to be operated via Artificial Intelligence, the world has come a long way; however, there is still a long way to go.
In the Middle East, a region plagued by pollution, water scarcity, overgrazing, high temperatures, and excessive mining activities and urbanisation, there is a long journey ahead, but we are heading in the right direction. Around the region, environmental protection and sustainable economic development have taken a more central position in policymaking, and on a societal level, the public has become more aware of the need to support these efforts.
Understanding the importance of protecting the planet, Qatar became a signee to major pacts, such as the Paris Agreement and Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. In addition, one of the four pillars of QNV 2030, alongside human, social and economic progression, is environmental development, which has manifested itself through state-supported ecological awareness initiatives, animal protection projects, air quality monitoring programmes as well as afforestation and agricultural work.
Over the past decade, ecological awareness in Qatar has been rising with Doha being a host to high-level multinational events. These have included the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference and government sustainable investment food security initiatives, such as Qatar Development Bank's (QDB) greenhouse loans, which QBG is supporting through workshops for QDB clients on greenhouse cultivation, hydroponics, and crop cultivation techniques.
On Earth Day, it is essential that we also as individuals reflect on the magnificent planet that we have been blessed with and think about the ways that we can protect it. The Holy Qur'an contains more than 500 verses related to the environment and sustainability, highlighting our sacred duty of taking care of our planet. Since our actions today will have consequences on future generations, we have a responsibility to make choices and decisions that contribute to the well-being of the Earth.
At QBG, we believe that lasting change begins from within and seek to empower the individual to make decisions that will help protect the environment. Brought to life by QF's commitment to promote a greater public understanding of the plants, botanic terms, and conservation principles mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, Hadith, and Sunnah (Sayings and Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]), QBG's journey began when it was founded during Ramadan in 2008.
The QBG garden inspires an appreciation of nature and encourages respect and a sense of responsibility towards the environment. It is home to more than 60 botanical species drawn from three geographical regions desert, Mediterranean, and tropical.
QBG's Botanic Museum displays more than 120 items, such as plant parts, traditional medicinal plants, as well as farming, food, and drinking tools. The garden is also home to a herbarium and a seed bank unit, where all plant species in the garden are documented.
With the aim of creating a more environmentally conscious public, QBG has partnered with a range of organisations, including the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Qatar National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, QDB, the Royal Botanic Garden of Jordan, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, and the UN Environment Programme.
To combat desertification, support biodiversity, reduce carbon emissions, and involve the community in preserving Qatar's environment, plants, and natural resources, QBG has implemented numerous wild plant restoration and conservation projects across the country rehabilitating and developing Qatar's vegetation in the process. We have also distributed seeds and wild plant seedlings for the community to plant across natural habitats in the country.
In 2018, QBG launched a desert restoration campaign with the MME titled ‘Man Lbar Ajmal', which translates as ‘Together for a more beautiful desert'. In that year alone, QBG took part in nine restoration camps with the MME and other entities and planted 609 trees at nine original habitats by more than 400 people. Most recently, on February 26 Qatar Environment Day with the support of our partners, QBG organised a desert wild plant restoration day in the Rawdat al-Faras area, which helped restore 300 trees in the area, as well as clean it up from litter.
To date, our team has propagated 7,000 native tree saplings for restoration across Qatar and planted 431 trees in the desert. In addition, as part of QBG's Ghars Campaign, since 2011 we have planted close to 1,900 trees, nearing our goal of planting 2,022 in the lead up to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
We also strive to support the 2021-2030 UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration through the planting of native trees, seed collection and plant restoration in their natural habitats. By 2025, we aim to plant 12,000 wooden shrubs and trees of the Acacia tortilis, Acacia ehrenbergiana, Acacia nilotica, Prosopis cineraria, Ziziphus nummularia and Lycium shawii.
Although we have come a long way since the first Earth Day was launched 51 years ago, it is paramount that efforts to preserve the environment continue and that we do what we can to protect our planet more so than even before. It is truly humbling to witness QBG's role in protecting Qatar's environment and we will continue doing everything in our capacity to create a greener and healthier planet for the generations to come.
Qur'anic Botanic Garden
The Qur'anic Botanic Garden, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, the first of its kind in the world announced to exhibit all the plant species mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, and those in the Hadith and Sunnah (Sayings & traditions of the Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]). The Qur'anic Botanic Garden was inaugurated by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, on 17 September 2008. To mark the event, she planted the Garden's very first tree, the Sidra (Ziziphus spina-christi Willd, Sidr), which is also the symbol of the Foundation. The Garden exhibits the botanical terms mentioned in the Holy Qur'an, explaining the significance of their mention in the Holy Qur'an, as well as the scientific explanations of composition, application and usefulness to man. It inspires appreciation of nature by encouraging respect and responsibility for our environment
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