MOSCOW, February 23 (RIA Novosti) – Following through on the ambitious program to turn his desert land into a “flowering garden,” Turkmenistan President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered on Friday to plant three million trees in the country in 2013.
Half of that number will span the 100-kilometer stretch between the towns of Anau and Baharly in the country’s south, according to Turkmenistan.gov.tm. The other 1.5 million saplings are to be planted by local authorities across the republic’s five regions.
The planting is to comprise unspecified deciduous, coniferous and fruit trees, as well as grapevine, all of which are to be provided with sufficient irrigation, the report said.
The plan kickstarts Turkmenistan’s National Forest Program, signed into law on Friday by Berdymukhamedov.
More than 70 percent of Turkmenistan’s territory is occupied by the Karakum Desert, and desertification remains a pressing issue for the country, as well as for most of Central Asia.
Berdymukhamedov three-million-tree plan is far from the most extravagant desertification cure proposed for the region: Since the 1960s, the Soviet Union was working on a plan to reroute the great Siberian rivers flowing to the Arctic Sea south to Central Asia. The project, whose possible environmental effects were never fully evaluated, was abandoned during the perestroika due to lack of funding.