Situated in Al Unaizah, Saudi Arabia, Al-Ghadha Park holds the Guinness World Record for the largest saxaul tree botanical garden, measuring over 172 million square meters. It has been maintained by the locals for over five decades, with the governorate enacting strict laws against deforestation. The park is home to the iconic saxaul trees, which can grow in arid environments and survive without water for months.
In fact, saxaul trees are considered a symbol of the region dating back to historic times when people would care for local vegetation. In turn, the trees had also influenced the locals and their cultures for many generations.
“This heavy spread of the saxaul trees is due to the keenness of the people, since ancient times, to care for this tree, which later became a symbol of the province and a tourist landmark,” Saleh Bin Dakhil, spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of the Environment, Water and Agriculture said in a recent article by Arab News.
Today, Al-Ghadha Park is a tourist attraction, and venue for the annual Al-Ghadha Winter Festival. It also makes for a great camping spot in the winter, with necessary permits and guidelines required to help sustain the environment. Currently, the National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification is spearheading efforts to maintain and restore vegetation around the park.
“The center has also drawn up a number of plans to preserve the parks, including increasing the number of inspectors monitoring environmental violations and applying the regulations to violators, so as to contribute to the development and sustainability of vegetation in accordance with the Kingdom's Vision 2030,” Bin Dakhil said.