KARACHI: Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed the forest department to start linear plantation and urban forestry by planting trees along roads, canals and strategic installations.
He issued these directives while presiding over a meeting on Tuesday to review performance of the forest department at CM House.
Our cities have become heat islands, the CM said, stressing the need for an effective tree plantation drive. He added that social forestry, which is the management of trees on non-forest lands, was also the need of the hour.
Forest Additional Chief Secretary Sohail Akbar Shah briefed the CM on the performance of his department. He said that out of 123,478 acres of encroached land of the department, 17,187 acres had been retrieved while 106,292 acres had still to get vacated. He pointed out that most of the encroachments on forest land were under litigation.
The CM directed Sohail to start planting forests on the vacated land and pursue the pending cases in courts so that land could be retrieved from encroachers at the earliest.
The meeting was also informed that 64,498 acres of forest land had illegally been allotted in Hyderabad, Karachi, Sukkur, Thatta, Dadu, Larkana, Kandhkot, Khipro, Khairpur, Mirpur Mathelo and Tando Muhammad Khan. Murad directed the officer to cancel the allotments by fulfilling legal formalities.
The forest department also informed the meeting about its achievements. Sohail claimed that the department had developed new forests over 3,000 acres in riverine areas. He also informed the CM that the forest department had achieved conservation and management of Indus delta mangroves spread over 25,000 acres, establishment of linear planation over 400 kilometres, growing of 4.54 million container plants and distribution of 9 million saplings during the monsoon season.
The department had also set a new Guinness World Record of planting 1,129,294 mangroves plants in one day on April 19 this year, the meeting was informed. To a query by the CM, the forest secretary said the certificate of world record was expected to be received before September 17.
Key challenges being faced by the department as mentioned by Sohail included reforestation on available areas in the state-owned forests, increase in tree cover on farmlands through farm forestry and getting encroached-upon areas vacated.
The chief minister suggested that the forest department target establishing mangroves forests on potential blank areas and conserve about 250,000 acres of rehabilitated mangroves forests through community households. It was said that growth and stability of mangroves can only be ensured if fresh water is released downstream of Kotri Barrage.
The meeting was informed that forests on rangelands (barani lands) that spread over 1.13 million acres in desert and Kohistan areas were dependent on rainfall.
The meeting was also attended by Chief Secretary Major (retd) Azam Suleman, Planning and Development Board Chairperson Mohammad Waseem, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Finance Secretary Noor Alam and other officers.