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Plea to protect palm trees in Bahrain

Manama, December 8, 2010

An urgent plea has gone out to protect palm trees, one of the iconic symbols of Bahrain.

Environmentalists are calling on authorities to implement existing laws that protect green land and palm trees.

They also want decision-makers to introduce a new law to safeguard farmers who have invested in rented land.

According to the Environment Friends Society (EFS), at least 70 per cent of farms in Bahrain have been lost in the last few decades and more are being targeted.

'In 2004, an official release from the then Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry stated that 65pc of farms had been lost, so with the best of luck 30pc is left, but this is very doubtful,' society president Khawla Al Muhannadi told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).

'We are appealing to officials to take action before it is too late.'

EFS has launched a national campaign that calls for Bahrainis and authorities to defend what is left of Bahrain's farms.

They have sent letters to the ministers of Housing, Municipalities and Urban Planning and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife asking for their support.

'We have the palm tree law of 1983 and the green belt law that protect farms and they should be applied and we ask authorities to apply them,' said Al Muhannadi.

She said His Majesty King Hamad and his wife Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa were backing various initiatives to help protect Bahrain's palm trees, farms and greenery, but the destruction of farms was in direct contradiction to those efforts.

'At the Bahrain International Garden Show, Bahraini farmers are shown to be something the country is proud of, so why do you want to destroy something you are proud of?,' asked Al Muhannadi.

'If you want to support farmers and farms in Bahrain then protect them, farmers don't need training, or motivation, they just need farms and they are doing this on behalf of all of us.'

EFS first called on authorities to implement existing laws for the protection of palm trees and the country's green belt in 2003.

Al Muhannadi said until now these laws were being violated and very few farms had been saved in what was once known as the land of a million palm trees.

'We are now concentrating on saving Bahrain's green belt, starting with the farms in Al Burhama,' she said.

'We know that farms have been replaced there recently and there are more on the list.

'We don't have exact numbers, but we know at least three farms, which were full of palm trees, have been completely demolished in the last three months.'

Al Muhannadi claimed that the farms being targeted were on government land that had been earmarked for housing projects.

'Building on these farms will not solve the real housing problem, but it will destroy the livelihood of Bahrainis, which is part of our culture and identity and you can't just take this away,' she said.

'The majority of farms are demolished anyway, we are just asking them to save what is left.

'The farmers are living by selling plants, flowers and they have invested in their farms.

'People are not happy to lose their farms and we think this is a strong case and want a happy success story.

'These farmers are so depressed, one fell down from shock after his land was taken.

'Another spent 55 years as a farmer and he fears that this land will be taken because he rents the land.'

The environmentalist said although there was a law to protect Bahrain's green belt there was nothing to protect Bahraini farmers who rented their land.

'The regulations don't protect farmers who have invested in the land and this must be changed before it is too late,' she added.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | agriculture | Environment | Food | farming | Fruit | palm trees |

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