Saudi Arabia deploys drones for seed dispersal in afforestation campaign

October 25, 2021

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH – Saudi Arabia makes history in its ambitious afforestation drive with planting trees in desert using drones.

A number of drones were deployed to spread seasonal wild seeds in the first of its kind campaign at Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Royal Reserve in the Northern Border Region on Saturday.

The afforestation campaign covered the area Faida Al-Darrayah, south of Lina in the Al-Hajrah region in the northeastern part of the reserve, located 120 km south of Rafha governorate. The ambitious drive of spreading seeds on an area of two million square meters with the help of drones is part of an afforestation campaign of the reserve for the 2021-2022 season.

The drones will distribute seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally and annually, according to a statement of the reserve.

“The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks,” the statement added.

Eng. Muhammad Al-Shaalan, CEO of Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority, said the campaign will cover three areas of the reserve, including Lina in the Northern Border Region, Turba in the Hail region and Qobbah in the Qassim region.

He said the first phase aims to plant 100,000 trees within the borders of the reserve during the 2021-2022 season, with the participation of the local people, the Rawabit Al-Khadra Association and school students.

Al-Shaalan said the use of drones would reduce reliance on manpower in the planting operations, and the spread of seeds in vast areas of varying terrain, with its ability to collect information to be used later to follow and analyze seed growth through artificial intelligence techniques. The move is part of a plan to develop vegetation cover, combat desertification, and cultivate local trees and wild plants at the natural reserve.

Prince Turki Bin Mohammed Bin Fahd, minister of state, member of the Cabinet and chairman of the board of directors of Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Royal Reserve Development Authority, made an inspection tour of the reserve in March this year.

During the visit, Prince Turki inaugurated the afforestation campaign inside the reserve, and that was in cooperation with The National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, in the presence of a number of volunteers.

He also launched the website of the reserve, which included information about the reserve, updates on news and development projects.

A number of Arabian sand gazelles were released in cooperation with the National Center for Wildlife, within the reserve program to revive and develop wildlife. The releasing process aimed to rehabilitate the endangered local wild animals, restore their environmental roles in nature, and raise awareness and enhance opportunities for environmental education.

Speaking on the occasion, Prince Turki affirmed that the Saudi leadership pays great attention to the environment and natural reserves with the aim of developing them.

The development is environmental, economic, cultural and social, in a way that will positively affect the environmental life and be an outlet for citizens and visitors to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he said.

As part of the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives, launched by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman earlier this year, Saudi Arabia aims to plant 10 billion trees in the Kingdom over the coming decades.

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