Qatar’s only elected body has recommended that authorities do more to restore some of the country’s green spaces, which have been replaced by desert in recent years.
The discussion took place at the bi-weekly Central Municipal Council (CMC) meeting earlier this month.
CMC member Khaled Abdullah Al Ghali, who brought up the issue, told Doha News that as a child, he remembers meadows so thick with trees that it was difficult to walk through them.
But now many of those spaces are gone, due to lack of rain, overgrazing and recklessness by some construction companies, he said, adding that fragile land takes years to recover from the use of heavy machinery.
Al Ghali said that restoring greener meadows would help reduce high temperatures in Qatar and offer people places to go for recreational outings, especially for families during the cool spring and winter seasons.
Meadows would also create beautiful scenery that tourists and residents alike could enjoy, he added.
During its meeting, CMC recommended that the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) prepare a detailed plan to restore meadows; provide the designated authority with the necessary equipment and trained workforce to nurture the spaces; and encourage farm owners and citizens to plant their own greenery.
The recommendation builds on suggestions made by the CMC in 2012 to plant more trees in Qatar.
However, Khalid Al Anzi, an official at MME’s Agricultural Department, said during a previous meeting with CMC’s public services and utilities committee that the ministry already has a program in place to develop Qatar’s meadows.
He said that around 1,500 local trees have been planted in five meadows in the last couple of years, including 300 trees in each meadow.
In 2014, restored green spaces include Al Ghafat meadow in Rawdat Rashed, Al Wakrah meadow and a meadow in Simaisma.
And last year, two other places were restored, including one in Al Khor and another in Al Shahaniya.
This year, there is a plan to restore three meadows, including in Asa Al Sai and Umm Guwaifa. The MME also recently concluded “Tree Week” to raise environmental awareness among schoolchildren.
Other government efforts include extending a ban on grazing until August 2017.
An official in the Ministry of Environment said last year when the extension was announced that the ban has been in place since 2011, resulting in the healthy growth of trees and plants as well as the recovery of meadows, according to Al Raya.
He added that the country’s meadows are very fragile and sensitive due to environmental factors, like lack of rain over the past few years.
For his part, Al Ghali said that CMC members are gathering statistics from their constituencies on how many meadows exist and how many need restoring. The list will then be presented to the MME to help restore them.
Al Ghali also called on all of Qatar’s citizens to plant more trees and restore the nation’s wildlife so that everyone can enjoy its beauty, instead of simply waiting for the ministry to implement its plan.