Last week, the KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government of Northern Iraq) kicked off an environmental improvement campaign that will include the planting of over 2 million seedlings in the region. The opening ceremony for this campaign featured Prime Minister Dr. Barham Salih at the Hawari Shar Park near Sulaymaniyah.
I'm really glad that these guys are getting out there and getting their hands dirty planting a few trees (I do hope that they are atleast native species ... maybe too much to hope for). The forests of Northern Iraq have been decimated over the last century ... and they need to be re-planted. But there is a part of me that still wanted to go out to Hawari Shar Park and lead a counter-demonstration.
As much as I like a good tree-planting, I would really like to also see the KRG tackle some of the other big problems facing the region. Like how the sewage of the entire city of Sulaymaniyah goes completely untreated into the Tanjero River (acutally every town and village in the country is putting their sewage into local surface waters untreated). I'd love to see them really deal with the local cement factories that are destroying the river in the their rush to mine for gravel or address the emissions from these and other industrial establishments that pollute the land, air and water. I'd be really impressed to see the cities do proper waste managment and recycling and finally close the Sulaymaniyah Dump (which I like to call Dante's Inferno) with its open pools of waste oil and muck trainting the grownwater and river below.
Trees are great, I'm all for trees ... but I want to seem them do these other things too. These problems are directly and quite literally killing people here. Killing the kids and the grandkids ... and these problems get worse and worse every year. I think it's long overdue that we saw an opening ceremony for the Sulaymaniyah Waste Water Treatment Facility or a new state of the art recycling facility. We can even plant some trees there.