CAFU’s Ghaf Tree Project aims to plant one million Ghaf tree seeds to help sustain life in the desert
Ghaf tree leaves and pods are made up of high levels of protein, fiber and calcium, making them a highly nutritional food source for livestock and the UAE’s wildlife – Supplied
Technology is a force that can be used to address global challenges and work towards a more sustainable future, says Rashid Al Ghurair, techpreneur and founder of CAFU.
Speaking to Khaleej Times ahead of World Environment Day 2022, which will be celebrated on June 5 under the slogan ‘Only One Earth’, Al Ghurair shared details about Cafu’s ongoing Ghaf Tree Project, which aims to re-green barren eco-systems by planting one million Ghaf trees.
The UAE’s national tree, he explained, is an essential part of the country’s ecosystem, absorbing almost 35kg of harmful carbon dioxide a day, and later releasing it as oxygen. Drought-resistant and life-giving, the hardy tree sustains life in the harsh desert conditions, allowing many species of animals to thrive while quite literally stabilising the desert terrain.
“Beyond its benefits to the environment and community, the Ghaf tree has long been a symbol of peace and stability, representing the heart of the UAE across the region and to the world during the Year of Tolerance,” he added.
Understanding the essential impact of this sturdy tree, CAFU is on a mission to plant one million Ghaf tree seeds across the UAE. The company is using highly advanced AI-driven drone technology to remove the ‘human element’ from the planting process, and deliver a ‘Made in the UAE’ solution that will radically improve the country’s natural environment and eco-system.
However, Al Ghurair noted that the task is not as simple as just planting seeds. “The process is very labor intensive and with soaring summer temperatures of 45 degree Celsius, it is a struggle to plant enough trees to make a viable impact.”
“Through the deployment of pioneering technology for good, CAFU aims to make the planting process quicker and more efficient, to address the global challenge of climate change and support the UAE’s goal to become net-zero by 2050,” he explained. “The ambitious AI-driven initiative will help drive the government’s vision for a more sustainable future while making a positive impact in the present.”
Al Ghurair also shred several reasons why the Ghaf tree is an excellent choice for the project. Ghaf tree leaves and pods are made up of high levels of protein, fiber and calcium, making them a highly nutritional food source for livestock and the UAE’s wildlife.
“In fact, traditional Bedouins would also consume the tender Ghaf leaves and pods for their high nutritional value,” he revealed. “During food shortages, UAE residents ground the tree’s sweet bark into flour and made cakes. Also, nomads used the bark leather for tanning. Ghaf trees have also been used extensively in the treatment of skin disorders and as a blood purifier.”
In addition, bees produce a unique red honey from the tree’s flowers, which is used as a delicacy across the nation. Not only that, but over 40 years ago, Ghaf leaves were used to cure a variety of ailments such as toothaches and dysentery, while its pods were used in traditional medicine to cure cataracts. Likewise, its bark helped treat rheumatism, as well as scorpion and snake bites.
Lastly, not only is the wood from Ghaf trees a popular firewood and high-quality charcoal, but it’s a strong and sustainable material to build homes, posts, furniture, barns, and boats. The trees also stabilise sand dunes while improving soil fertility and the growth of crop plants under its shade.
“The presence of Ghaf is an indicator there is water underground,” Al Ghurair said. “Many birds build nests on Ghaf trees including desert eagle owls and long-legged buzzards, while other birds nest in holes along the trunk and branches; and many more use the trees as roosts.”