On the land of a university in Mosul, Anas Al-Tai, Executive Director of the Mosul Eye Project, planted the roots of the "Green Mosul" initiative, which turned into a reality for a team that did not give up and received support from the French Crisis Center.
Al-Tai poste a tweet of “Green Mosul” last November, and tens showed supported. It has become a project on the ground supported by the governor who participated in planting all over Mosul to compensate greenery losses.
"We could not bear to see the forests of Mosul diminishing. This city has always been known for its forests and greenery, so we set out to fill a gap that those concerned did not pay attention to it despite its importance and danger for a city and country that is the first to be affected by climate change," Al-Taie told KirkukNow.
After 2003, Mosul lost thousands of trees due to government neglect and security disturbances, which prevented the intensification of its forests and the cultivation of more areas. On the contrary, urbanization was randomly extended to farms that abandoned their greenery to be replaced by "concrete" houses and construction.
On an area extending more than 800 dunums, the Mosul forests are located, which are adjacent to the Tigris River, as trees were cut down from these forests and sold as firewood under the rule of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria ISIS from 2014 to 2017.
Parts of the Mosul forests were deliberately burnt. This prompted Mosul Eye team to replace these trees and create parallel miniature forests that serve as a lung that supplies the city with a pure breath.
According to unofficial statistics, since 2003, Mosul has lost more than 50% of its trees and green spaces. This percentage rises throughout Iraq, which embraced 50 years ago a green area that took 60% of its total area, and it has shrunk due to wars and government looseness to 5% only. It is one of the five countries in the world considered the most affected by the climate change, according to the Green Mosul International Forum.
Dr. Alia Al-Attar, President of the Northern Technical University in Mosul, said, "We were the first to complete the contracting procedures with the Mosul Eye to plant our college with trees within the Green Mosul project. Any place covered by the project will be described as green, so we will call our college the green college."
The soil of the Northern Technical University in Mosul has become the land for 5000 trees that the team imported into the city after great trouble represented in the complexities of transportation and logistics.
To form mini-forests at the university and from there to all government institutions, in addition to mosques, temples, churches and monasteries, and through signing agreements with the beneficiary body that pledges to provide irrigation and maintenance of planted trees.
These works took nearly a whole year, after which the process of planting the first tree began on November 30, 2021 by the governor of Ninewa Najm al-Jubouri, who showed unprecedented readiness for the project, according to the members of the project.
We love this city very much, so we are happy to see it green
The members of "Green Mosul" are aware of the dangers of waiting for the future, threats of drought and desertification.
"We love this city very much, so we are happy to see it green in the future, and whoever visits it will love it as we loved it before," Abdel Aziz Saleh, one of the team members, enthusiastically said.
Several types of trees are planted under the project such as (silver cypress, Albizia, ornamental pepper) and each place is ornamented with a specific type of tree that suits it and according to the conditions of the place after consulting specialists offering services for free beside the project leader who holds an agricultural engineering degree from the University of Mosul.
According to academics, a small group of trees can reduce temperatures in its surroundings by 5 Celsius degrees.
The green Mosul project prompted me to contribute to the project because I see the future of my children and me better in face of a problem all over the world
The "Green Mosul" has completed to this day the planting of nearly 10,000 trees, which started in government institutions and reached the popular neighborhoods and streets of the city and did not end with reaching remote areas and districts such as Eski Mosul, Tal Afar, Hamdaniyah, Rabia, Baaj and others, but will include the entire Ninewa province after implementing the project phases and without Stop.
The project cooperated with the Municipal Department in Mosul and the Department of Agriculture and Forestry to intensify forests and compensate for previous losses.
Who is supporting the project?
Offers of participation in the "Green Mosul" project and donations from well-to-do people within the city or even expatriates did not stop. People showered messages with requests for participation on the "Eye of Mosul" Facebook page run by Anas Al-Tai, the project manager, since he started talking about the initiative two years ago up to the present.
Abdullah Al-Obaidi collected money from relatives in the family and set out to buy 500 seedlings of the “Myrtle” tree. He put it all on a wooden cart and began distributing it to traders and vendors of “Bab Al-Saray” Bazaar, taking a pledge from them to plant and look after it.
"The Green Mosul project prompted me to participate in the project because I see it as the future of my children and me better in the face of a problem that the whole world is considering," Abdullah believes.
More than 1,500 volunteers participated in the project by provision of trees to volunteers who plant it in their areas or in planting work in the areas targeted by the project.
Sufian Al-Mashhadani is an employee in the Ninewa Traffic Department who spares no effort to take care of his area, Eski-Mosul, which celebrates important archaeological sites such as the Abbasid Bridge and seeks to exploit and care for it and make it a tourist destination.
Sufian had the opportunity to get a number of trees and put them on the sides of the main road and share photos of its growing with his friends on Facebook.
"At a time when our atmosphere was filled with dust storms, we were happy with people's cooperation with us, and this indicates their awareness,” Al-Tai cheered.
“They send us pictures of trees and they are happy because the life of the trees affects their behavior, and sometimes they take care of the irrigation pipes or water them manually, or they increase the numbers by buying more trees.”
The Green Mosul International Forum
On the stage of Mosul University, Mosul Eye organized the Green Mosul International Forum on Climate Change and Challenges. The French ambassador to Iraq, Eric Chevalier, and a member of the European Parliament participated in the forum via video, in addition to academics and heads of organizations from the Italian capital, Rome.
The Turkish Consul in Mosul, Muhammad Kechuk, who was present at the forum, surprised the audience about a project by Turkey for planting 200,000 trees that will be presented to the city of Mosul and to reach one million trees in the future.
Prior to the forum, the "Green Mosul" initiative received an award for the best inspiring peace initiative from the British University of St. Andrew's, to be displayed at the University's Peace Museum as a model for the work of communities in promoting peace.
Those in charge of the project resolved to implement all its phases until it reaches the goal of transforming Mosul into green oasis. In its early stages, more than a million trees will be planted on its land, which will contribute to repelling some of the dust storms that swept Iraq eight times within one month.