DUBAI // Grade Four pupils at Repton School in Nad Al Sheba got their hands dirty planting tamarind trees yesterday.
The children will plant 176 trees by the end of the year, but began this week by planting 35 saplings.
The resulting grove will be a symbol of a pledge taken by 176 pupils to create a green oasis in the desert. This planting event formed part of the schoolchildren's practical science lesson and was organised by the development group Al Barari, as part of its "Plant a Tree" initiative.
"We want the children to understand the process behind the greenery they see around them," said Kamelia Zaal, the landscape director at Al Barari, who plans to introduce the project to more schools in the emirate.
"If we educate them now, they will be more conscious of protecting the environment later on in life."
The class project began last year when the children were taken to the developer's nursery and taught how to plant seeds.
"We told them about the indigenous variety and took them through the different stages in the plant life," said Ms Zaal. The seeds were left to grow into saplings at the nursery until ready to be planted on the school's premises.
Jonathan Hughes D'Aeth, headmaster of the school, said: "Despite being a desert, gardening here is remarkably easy because the sand has a huge amount of useful minerals. With a bit of compost and water, plants can thrive."
Mr D'Aeth said involving the pupils made them personally responsible for the flora. "When their hands feel the soil, they smell it and water it … it's a practical quality which is important in the education process."
Grade 4 pupil Henry Milford said he was aware of the benefits of living in green spaces. "We get more oxygen and it's good for the health too," he said.
He said he was disappointed to see trees being cut down to construct more buildings.
"If you do not plant a tree for one that is chopped down, then all the animals will die in the next 20 years."