Landscape-tales

Green City

In the Oman Observer in the article, ‘Build more Gardens,’ the editor – in – Chief Fahmy Al Harthy, rings an alarm. He stated: ‘THERE is an urgent need to build a series of public gardens along both sides of the 56-km long Muscat Expressway. We understand that Muscat Municipality has decided to develop 40 new parks in the city, bringing the total number of public parks and children’s playgrounds to 113. The municipality has already completed 11 of these projects. Building gardens along the Muscat Expressway is important to prevent the city from growing into a concrete jungle with high-rise buildings all around. The reason why is not hard to find. The capital city of Muscat — the political, commercial, financial, industrial and educational hub of the Sultanate — is fast getting saturated with concrete structures and its stock of land will be exhausted in a few years from now.’

Luckily about only one tenth of the population of the Sultanate lives in Salalah and the Dhofar region. The Dhofar Mountain Range and the coastal plains are the physical guidelines for the urban development. In some areas the plain between the mountains and the coastline is no wider than 8 to 10 km. up to today Salalah is still called the ‘Green City.’

Historically along the coastal plain there has always been a green belt of tropical plantations of coconut, bananas, palms and papayas. In the Governorate of Dhofar agriculture remains the main source of income. Moreover the Dhofar region is the most famous area for banana production in Oman and it has more than 40% of the total area of bananas in the Sultanate.

Salalah has landscaped gardens and parks and there are also the nine protected lagoons along the coastline most beloved by birds to fly above and to stay for food, for water and as a resting place.

Every year between June and September, as the only region in the Arabian Gulf, 130km² of the 1500km² of Dhofar is affected by the south west monsoon climate or the so-called khareef. Like a wizard the moisture condenses on trees and plants and sometimes falls as a drizzle or develops into fog. Flora and fauna start moving, people socialize, there is magic in the air.

The flip side of the coin: severity of the threats

In Dhofar, socio-economic changes have brought improved veterinary services, cheap fodder and increased water availability through the sinking of boreholes, all of which have led to larger herds and greater grazing pressure. The cutting of wood for fodder, timber, and firewood is also a serious problem. Not to mention the severe impact of off-road driving on soils and vegetation on the Dhofar coastal plain and mountains. Other pressures in the Dhofar region relate to the increasing human population and associated increase in roads, housing and other development…

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