Major tree-planting drive in Afghanistan

Up to 25 million tree seedlings will be planted in Afghanistan this year by the government, NGOs and private entities to combat soil erosion and desertification, and help improve air quality in urban environments, says the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).

Funding for the project is from various government departments and NGOs, including the US Agency for International Development.

The seedlings would be planted mostly in and around urban areas. Air pollution hastens the deaths of over 3,000 people in Kabul every year, says the Health Ministry.

“We must revitalize forests and expand green areas because they are essential for the future of our country,” MAIL spokesman Abdul Majid Qarar told IRIN, adding that three million seedlings would be planted by MAIL, but warned that they had to reckon on 45-50 percent of them dying due to lack of water or care. Afghanistan has lost up to 80 percent of its forests in the past three decades, according to the government.