Cyprus forestry dept ‘sold out’ 20,000 saplings

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The Cyprus Forestry Department gave out a record 20,000 saplings on Saturday, double the amount anticipated, with the public waiting for hours to reach the various points of distribution.

The department’s director, Charalambos Alexandrou, said that all available young trees were given out by 1pm, with families allowed up to three saplings free of charge, as part of the Agriculture Ministry’s campaign “I plant for the climate”.

Alexandrou said on CyBC radio that the campaign will be repeated “very soon”, but if this is not possible, then more trees will be offered during the next planting season in October.

He said that because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the department opted to hand out small trees in a “drive through” effort, whereby motorists would not have to leave their cars. They would drive up to the eight points of distribution throughout Cyprus and Forestry Dept. officers would hand them the saplings.

If families were accompanied by children, they would be given an additional small tree for every child.

“We had a long queue from the CyBC traffic lights (on Limassol Ave.) to our offices within Athalassa Forest. We were obliged to tell people to turn back,” Alexandrou said.

Agriculture Minister Costas Kadis said that, “people started arriving two hours earlier than the 10am we had announced, and we saw people of all ages coming to get free trees to plant in their gardens.”

“It is clear that all citizens of Cyprus want to help make the country greener.”

“Last year, we offered 70,000 trees and this year’s aim is for 100,000 trees,” said Kadis. He said that the Democratic Rally party has already offered 5,000 saplings to be distributed to the public.

The Forestry Dept. said members of the public would have to send the necessary SMS message to the ‘CyRepubSMS’ platform on 8998, entering category 8, to get permission to drive to the various outlets. Due to lockdown measures still in place, people are only allowed two message requests per day, maintaining the 9pm curfew, which will be extended to 11pm as of Tuesday, March 16.

Kicking off the tree-planting season earlier in the week, Cyprus Greens’ President Charalambos Theopemptou said that “whoever wants to help his country, the easiest thing to do is plant a tree.”

The Greens have been marking their party’s 25th anniversary with tree planting, greening and public cleaning campaigns.