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In Jordan’s gardens

Aug 23,2015 - Last updated at Aug 23,2015

News that 50,000 citrus trees will be sold at subsidised prices to those wishing to plant them in their garden is an innovative initiative.

Citrus trees need a warm environment, soft damp soil, plenty of water and protection from freezing gusts.

However, regulation requires 10 per cent of a plot of land to be planted before a permit is granted by the municipality to get it connected to electricity, water and other utilities.

I do not know of any similar project, but I would make a few suggestions regarding the drive to make the country greener that I hope the Amman municipality takes into consideration.

There is need to choose the right plants, which need no irrigation after the first year, such as vines, and even more important to plant a variety of native trees adapted to the local environment, such as prunes and apricots.

At the same time, there should be incentives for people who use grey water for irrigation when possible.

The orientation of trees is also important. For example, those that are green all year long, such as olive and citrus trees, should not face south, so as not to obstruct the winter sun on the highlands.

Many in the Levant area remember how people used to make their own raisins from grapes, as well as vinegar, wine and syrups for use in winter, rich sources of food that can be stored all year long, sometimes even longer.

Many families used to prepare jams from fig trees, grapes, apricots, a skill that could have been an additional source of national economic growth, but that we have lost in time.

Trees are a sustainable source of food that will not only feed us all year long but also shade our soil and buildings in summer (thus reduce the effect of global warming) and facilitate a richer biodiversity in urban areas, being a natural habitat for bees, birds, etc.

Trees help reduce the effect of greenhouse gas; each mature tree consumes 10-20kg of carbon dioxide annually and produces much needed oxygen. So, assuming that an average Jordanian produces 4,000kg of carbon dioxide per year, we need to plant 200 trees per person annually to balance out the damage to Mother Earth.

Jordan’s green area is less than 1 per cent of its surface area and harbours 349 unique and rare species of trees. Unfortunately, more than 20 per cent of these are at risk of extinction.

A more complicated and holistic approach to planting trees in Jordanians’ gardens should make use of existing regulations. A variety of productive trees should be chosen, their impact on the ecosystem and our dwellings calculated and maybe some species that are at risk of extinction should be introduced in the formula.

If we consider introducing 10 trees in each home with small gardens, with the survival rate of 50 per cent in a semi-arid climate only five trees will survive in each annually. Multiplied by, say, 100,000 homes, the total number will be half-a-million trees annually producing fruit and by-products worth JD5 million annually. These increase gradually as the trees mature.

If we consider the cost of carbon dioxide capture, the cost of energy saved through shading houses in summer and the thermal comfort achieved, which ensures better health and more productivity, this number will definitely be double or more.

 

The writer is a green building and energy audit consultant. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times. 

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