ISLAMABAD: Even as the government launched a massive tree-plantation drive, the federal capital has been slowly but steadily been losing its green canopy.
Questions have also been raised on the survival rate of saplings planted by the Capital Development Authority (CDA). While the concerned directorate shows enthusiasm during the campaign, the passion ebbs with the passage of time.
Green Islamabad: Natural beauty of capital under threat
On Thursday, as part of the nation-wide Green Pakistan Programme, Islamabad Mayor and CDA chairman Sheikh Anser Aziz had launched the tree-plantation drive in the capital, planting saplings at the Rose and Jasmine Garden. Under the campaign, the government aims to plant 300,000 saplings in the capital of different varieties – with a special focus on local species.
However, as past tree-plantation drives have shown, the civic body does not have an effective mechanism for monitoring the newly-planted trees nor does it have sufficient staff to look after the saplings.
As a result, most of the saplings die within days of being planted.
Talking to APP, Sector F-8 resident Dr Irshad Khan said that the green belt located in the sector had a number of dead trees.
He added that greenery, which used to be a hallmark of Islamabad, now only existed in the more posh sectors of the capital. He also called for protecting older trees.
Preservation of old trees is a common practice in the developed countries, but the CDA has not made any efforts to tackle the challenge, another resident Shazia Khan said.
Pakistan's first urban forest makes way in concrete jungle
She observed that CDA had chopped hundreds of trees over the past few years but nobody knew where these trees had gone.
The CDA conducts a two-day tree plantation campaign every year in which hundreds of saplings are planted, but it has failed to adequately arrest the shrinking tree cover.
Meanwhile, a CDA official said that the civic body had in fact increased the number of new saplings being planted in the capital from 400,000 to 500,000 during the last spring tree plantation campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2017.