Dubai: The Saudi National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has reported an astonishing 600 per cent surge in vegetation cover within the Mecca region over the past five months, from August to December 2023.
The significant increase is attributed to the rainy conditions experienced during this period, with rainfall levels reaching up to 200 mm in certain areas.
Through a comprehensive analysis of remote sensing data, it was determined that the initial vegetation cover area in Mecca in August measured 3,529.4 square kilometres, constituting 2.3 per cent of the region's total area. As rainfall continued to bless the region in the subsequent months, this coverage steadily expanded, ultimately reaching an impressive 26,256 square kilometres by the year's end.
By December 2023, the vegetation cover extended across 17.1 per cent of the total area of the Mecca region, predominantly in the mountainous and highland regions along the Red Sea coast. These areas, with elevations ranging from 500 to 2,600 meters, encompass the governorates of Mecca, Taif, Al Laith, Al Jumum, Al Kamil, and Khulais.
The National Center conducts in-depth studies on the state of vegetation cover areas and continually monitors changes at tree-planting project sites. It employs advanced remote sensing and artificial intelligence technologies to track land cover alterations, measure rainfall levels, and assess plant health. These efforts are all geared towards achieving the goals of tree-planting initiatives and the Saudi Green initiative.