PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) has surpassed the target of the Bonn Challenge by planting trees over more than 350,000 hectares of deforested and degraded land under the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project.
The achievement was announced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international body that works for to preserve nature in its report released on August 11.
'Billion tree tsunami' surges across K-P
According to the report, the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project in K-P has ‘surpassed’ its target by restoring and planting trees in 350,000 hectares of degraded forest landscapes.
The Billion Tree Tsunami project was launched back in 2015 by PTI Chairman Imran Khan with the aim to make the degraded land into green and clean, as well as, to end deforestation.
“The project helps fulfil its 348,400 hectare commitment to the Bonn Challenge – a global effort to restore 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030,” the report states.
This marks the first Bonn Challenge pledge to reach its restoration goal,” the report goes on to say.
“The project is naturally restoring a previously deforested landscape, which will assist in meeting present and future needs as well as offering multiple benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation in a very climate-vulnerable province,” Muhammad Tehmasip, project director of the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation project is quoted in the report.
The report states that the project has achieved its restoration target through a combination of protected natural regeneration at 60 per cent and planned afforestation which stands at 40 per cent.
In addition, it has established 13,000 private tree nurseries, which have already boosted local incomes, generated thousands of green jobs, and empowered unemployed youth as well as women in the province.
“IUCN congratulates the [K-P] province on reaching this momentous milestone.”
“The Billion Tree Tsunami initiative is a true conservation success story, one that further demonstrates Pakistan’s leadership role in the international restoration effort and continued commitment to the Bonn Challenge,” Inger Anderson, IUCN director general was quoted in the report as saying.
K-P forests lose 74% density, claim officials
Furthermore, the report reads that the planted trees reinforce riparian embankments in important catchment areas, including along the banks of the Indus, Kunhar and Swat rivers.
The project has also added tree resources to agricultural lands currently engaged in farm forestry, improved biodiversity by restoring wildlife shelters, and will contribute to carbon dioxide sequestration through new tree plantations.
Stepping towards sustainable afforestation
Moreover, the report claims that the government has invested $123 million in funding and is set to allocate an additional $100 million to maintain the project through to June 2020.
“This support makes the project one of the largest eco investments ever made in Pakistan,” the report states.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2017.
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