The MillionOaks Project
Planting One Million Native Trees Trees in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region
Started: December 2020 – Ongoing
Location: Erbil, 120m road, near Hana City
Goal: Climate Action
Role of Hasar: Founder and Implementer
As temperatures continue to rise and dust storms become more frequent in Erbil City due to climate change, it has become critical to take action and combat the effects of these changes. The MillionOaks project is an innovative solution designed to build a large-scale annual afforestation effort in the city. By the end of 2025, the project will have planted one million trees, with 80% being native Oaks trees of the sub-species “Quercus brantii lind.” The remaining 20% will consist of a variety of tree species to provide biodiversity and shelter for the Oaks. The MillionOaks project is a groundbreaking initiative that aims to revitalize the city’s ecosystem, combat climate change, and create a more sustainable future for all.
The Hasar Organization is leading the way with the MillionOaks project, an ambitious initiative aimed at engaging the city administration, other organizations, and corporates to establish a large-scale reforestation effort on available public land next to the 120m St. In late 2020, Cihan University showed its support for the MillionOaks project by providing a nursery, while the Rwanga Foundation became a strategic partner of the initiative in the middle of 2021. Later in the year, the Kurdistan Regional Government allocated land to the project, paving the way for large-scale implementation. In early 2022, ShaMaran Petroleum Corp. joined as a corporate sponsor, providing the necessary support and funds. The MillionOaks project is a revolutionary effort that showcases the power of collaboration in creating a better future for the environment and the community.
There are three main objectives in this project;
Establishing a large-scale annual afforestation to combat the impact of climate change in the Kurdistan Region.
Encouraging and promoting a culture of tree-planting habits among the Kurdistan community.
Restoring natural forests and increasing green spaces in the Kurdistan Region to enhance biodiversity and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Why did we choose oak trees?
The MillionOaks project has chosen oak trees as the primary species for afforestation due to their unique adaptability and resilience to the challenging climatic conditions of our region. Oaks are well-suited to the local environment, as they can withstand harsh weather and severe droughts. In addition, oak trees have the ability to grow as a shrub colony in the early stages of development, providing a direct micro-canopy to the ground, which helps in soil moisture retention and weed suppression. The project has designed a tree-planting strategy, where oaks will comprise 80% of the total trees planted, and the remaining 20% will consist of native biodiversity trees and fast-growing species, which can provide immediate shelter and shade to the photo forest.
In December 2020, the MillionOaks project launched its inaugural planting season, with 1,500 indigenous oak trees planted in public areas. This marked the beginning of a new era of large-scale reforestation and community engagement in Erbil.
In December 2021, the MillionOaks project made history with its first-ever large-scale planting season, planting 60,000 oak trees along the 120m road in just 10 days. This groundbreaking achievement was made possible through the use of innovative planting techniques and community involvement.
In December 2022, the MillionOaks project shattered records once again with its second large-scale planting season. Over the course of just 9 days, the project team and community volunteers planted an astonishing 180,000 oak trees along the 120m road, solidifying Erbil’s reputation as a leader in sustainable urban development.
Creating a Climate-Resilient Forest: A Sustainable Solution to Combat Climate Change
The MillionOaks project is focused on planting a million trees and pioneering a new approach to afforestation. To ensure the long-term sustainability of the newly planted forest, the project is implementing a comprehensive management plan. Over a period of three years, the forest will be closely supervised and irrigated to ensure the healthy growth of the oak trees. The forest is expected to become self-sustaining once it reaches maturity, providing a habitat for a diverse range of species and many other benefits to the community. The project team has taken great care to choose a site that is well-protected by an existing fence, and they will continue to supervise the area after planting is completed. The project will be handed over to the local government to ensure that it receives the ongoing attention it needs to thrive in the years to come. Through these innovative approaches to afforestation, the MillionOaks project is blazing a trail for sustainable reforestation efforts around the world.