All good stories should be told and retold, through generations, around the globe. Nullker heard this one from a tree-planting initiative called Reforest Nicosia (aka 300k Trees in Nicosia), and it is so good and true that we cannot but share it with you. It is the story of a Tree of Life.
An image of a tree as something sacred has appeared in many cultures and mythologies since the dawn of time. The Tree of Life, the Genealogy Tree, Buddha’s Tree of Enlightenment… But the tree itself is much older than human history.
Trees had been on this planet long before humans. Yet, with the development of our species, the world of the trees started to shrink dramatically and got separated from human life. Meeting our own evolutionary needs, we built cities that were growing and crowding out trees from their natural habitats.
At Nullker, we have a strong and informed belief that it is time to reverse this evolutionary story and let trees back into our lives, ‘our’ lands, and especially into our cities.
In this regard, we have interviewed the Director of Reforest Nicosia, our dearest co-eco-thinker Eleftheria Louka, and her restless team. The story below is their story, so we did our best to render it word for word - and tree by tree.
For Reforest Nicosia, the tree is associated foremost with the source of life, rebirth, inspiration, and creation. And this vision is by no means random or exclusive.
Throughout centuries, humans have been influenced by and dependent on the periodic cycle of vegetation. A tree, in particular, was always honored in various ways and by different nations through customs and traditions. In many cultures, the tree is referred to as the symbol of the continuity of life through generations. For example, in speaking of their ancestry or the future, humans use references to a tree or its parts. Think of seemingly routine idioms, such as ‘our family tree’, ‘my roots’, or ‘children are the fruit of a marriage’.
Reforest Nicosia honors this ancient, trans-generational bond between humans and trees by using the latter to address the pressing needs of the island of Cyprus.
Cyprus is prone to drought and high temperatures. Climate change only contributes to the problem. And combined with the lack of trees, this makes life on the island unbearable. Extreme temperatures are torturing Cyprus’s cities too.
Yet, everything has a solution.
To envision this global issue on the scale of an island, one may refer to the example of microclimate - a zone with different climatic conditions compared to the areas around it.
A microclimate can exist due to natural phenomena. For example, in Cyprus, a mountain looking north is always wetter, thus greener, as the sun does not hit it directly all day, which creates a microclimate.
Also, a microclimate may be created by human intervention - in both positive and negative ways. For example, a city is always warmer due to all the cement and asphalt that prevails in urban areas. These materials absorb heat and radiate it back to the air, further increasing the temperatures.
Be it a local microclimate issue or the planetary one of global warming, the solution is universal - a tree.
Just a single mature tree has the cooling energy of 10 air conditioners. Trees absorb water and release it into the atmosphere through evapotranspiration, cooling the air. They also protect artificial surfaces and infrastructure from the direct sun rays, thus reducing the heat otherwise absorbed and radiated by urban materials. This way, trees decrease surface and air temperatures in urban areas. For this reason, Reforest Nicosia not only reforests no-man’s lands but also creates green zones in the cities of Cyprus.
At Reforest Nicosia, people believe that in urban areas, parks and outdoor spaces should be regarded as a key element for a healthy urban living. Sadly, a long-term and ever-increasing phenomenon of urbanization has resulted in the emergence of cities with incorrect and disbalanced urban planning. Eleftheria Louka and her team are upset that not many people realize the whole truth: green zones are a functional and social necessity for modern megapolises and not merely beautiful places. A city without parks cannot be a sustainable city, Louka says.
All in all, planting trees in the cities and unpopulated zones alike helps decrease both the temperature and CO2 levels. It means that climate change is being addressed from two complementary directions and in both worlds - natural and anthropogenic.
The Reforest Nicosia team shows how to use trees as a valuable resource, and they do it to the maximum potential!
Reforest Nicosia has an ambitious and very symbolic goal - planting 300,000 trees (one tree for every citizen in Nicosia). Since 2019 - when they started - up until today, they have planted 10,000 trees. The trees need two things: hands to plant them and time to grow. It means that Reforest Nicosia’s goal would take many years and require the help of many people. From bare ground to a young forest, it would take around 20-30 years depending on the soil conditions, the amount of water it receives, and the size of the area that is being reforested, they say.
Notwithstanding, despite the challenges, Reforest Nicosia teammates hope that people will support and join them in their sacred mission: to be the generation that would plant life-giving trees in the shadow of which our grandchildren will be sitting.
Having read this story, everyone needs to understand one important truth. Every tree is the Tree of Life - the life of each of us in particular and all of us as humankind.
While the hands of the Reforest Nicosia team are busy planting trees, you can also offer your helping hand by giving them a donation via the Nullker platform.
On behalf of the trees and future generations, we thank you!