ISLAMABAD: The government has claimed to have planted over 2 million indigenous trees throughout the country under the Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) which was launched earlier this year.
“Launched on February 9 at the Prime Minister’s office by the prime minister, the Green Pakistan Programme aims to reinvigorate country’s ailing forestry sector through large-scale tree plantation, protect and conserve wildlife and their habitats for revival of overall biodiversity, which is in dire strait because of years’ of over-exploitation,” the climate change ministry media spokesperson Mohammad Saleem said.
He said that the ambitious programme – hammered out by the forest wing of the Ministry of Climate Change in consultation with forest, biodiversity and environmental experts of national and global repute as well as forest and wildlife departments of all the provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) –reflects the country’s interest in protecting and conserving forest and wildlife resources.
Of the trees planted from February to May, most of the trees were planted in Punjab, where 1.051 million trees were planted. It was followed by 409,300 trees which were planted in Sindh, 202,000 trees in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 232,400 trees in Balochistan, 130,500 in AJK, 86,330 trees in Gilgit-Baltistan and 87,000 trees in Fata.
Moreover, 9.58 million tree saplings were grown in nurseries which were set up in various parts of the country under the Green Pakistan Programme.
“These 9.58 million plants will be planted across the country over the next few months, particularly in those areas which are vulnerable to floods, land erosion, landslides and where desertification is expanding,” Saleem explained, adding that the plantation drives and nursery development were being carried out in collaboration with provincial forest and wildlife departments.
He said that a viable mechanism had been hammered out to ensure maximum survival of the tree saplings.
The government was also engaging local forest communities for their direct involvement in tree plantation drives and subsequent care.
Under its ambitious five-year plan, Saleem said that the ministry aims to plant 100 million trees till 2021 at a cost of Rs10 billion. Half of the cost would be met by the provincial and regional governments while the remainder would be provided by the federal government in annual instalments.
“Role of forests in tackling climate change impacts, particularly floods, soil, the wind and river erosions, sea-level rise, erratic and torrential rains, is now being recognised globally and also by the present Pakistani government,” Saleem said, adding, “They have the potential to absorb around a one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them – in principle in perpetuity.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2017.