“Green Riyadh” is one of the most ambitious afforestation projects in the world that would help reduce some of the harms of urbanization, and make the city more capable of coping with the environmental changes.
The first phase of the project consists of planting around 31,000 trees over 144 meters of main routes in Riyadh, including King Salman Road, King Khalid Road, King Fahd Road, Airport Road, Makkah Road, the Northern Ring Road, and the Eastern Ring Road.
The Saudi project, one of the Grand Riyadh Ventures established by King Salman bin Abdulaziz in March, 2019, would contribute to increasing the individual share of greenery, expanding green spaces by spreading and growing more trees across the city, and ensuring the best exploitation of irrigation water.
The planned afforestation will help improve the quality of air, drop the city’s temperatures, and encourage inhabitants on adopting a more active lifestyle in line with the goals of the “Vision 2030”.
Urban Planner Fouad Al-Asiri believes that cities’ afforestation is of great importance, especially in the deserted areas which need more green spaces given their high temperatures, nature of the soil, and growing pollution.
Since the 1970s, most of the urban planning projects have focused on facilitating vehicle transportation and neglected people’s need for more spaces that allow them to use bicycles or walk to accomplish their daily tasks, he told Asharq Al-Awsat over a phone interview.
Al-Asiri noted that weather conditions in all seasons should not prevent people from walking, but the modern urban planning has focused on constructing more buildings instead of considering the human need for more spaces.
Urban afforestation aims at enhancing the quality of life and humanizing the cities by allowing people to meet their needs without using a car.
Al-Asiri said the “Green Riyadh” project highlights the importance of planting more trees instead of “grass surfaces,” because the latter provides little urban benefits, and consumes large quantities of water.
He added that one of the project’s main goals is to surround all kind of buildings with long shade trees to help reduce the temperatures, absorb the sunlight that reflects on the buildings, and reduce the surface’s temperature by 10-12 degrees and the air currents around the buildings to 5-7 degrees.