PESHAWAR: As the province joined in the prime minister’s ‘Plant for Pakistan’ by planting some 5 million trees, the provincial environment and forests minister vowed to plant another billion trees in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
This was stated by K-P Environment Minister Ishtiaq Urmar while addressing the monsoon tree plantation drive in the Shah Kas area of the Khyber Tribal District on Sunday.
Urmar claimed that K-P, which had planted over a billion trees over the past five years, will be the first province in the country to achieve its target under the Billion Tree Tsunami project. He added that they plan to plant a billion trees across K-P at an estimated cost of around Rs27 billion, including Rs9 billion for the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas (Fata).
The minister hoped that the project will not only convert barren lands of the newly-merged districts into green fields but will also help provide jobs to the youth of these areas. “We have hampered the timber mafias while around nine forest guards have rendered the ultimate sacrifices during forest fires but we never compromise on the plantation drive and safety of plants in the forest,” Urmar said.
The K-P Chief Secretary paid tribute to the tribal elders of Khyber who rendered immense sacrifices in the war against terror and their subsequent displacement.
Senator Taj Muhammad Khan Afridi, K-P Chief Conservator Niaz Ali Khan, MPAs from Fata and K-P were also present. Meanwhile, the K-P Forest Department, with the assistance of other stakeholders, planted a record 5 million saplings of different species across the province on Sunday under Plant for Pakistan campaign.
A K-P Forest Department spokesperson said that Sunday’s massive afforestation campaign was aimed at supporting the national drive to promote forests resources in the country. He added that the K-P government has announced a ‘one person-two plants’ afforestation campaign.
The official said that more than 150,000 plants were planted in Peshawar under the aegis of K-P Forest Department and the Peshawar District Administration on Sunday.
“Trees act as purifiers of the environment by significantly enhancing chances of rain, producing oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, controlling temperature and air pollution in the country,” said Tehmasip Khan, the project director of the Billion Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP).
K-P, he said, has large quantities of various species including Shisham, Siris, Pipal, Bakin, Amaltas, Willow, Poplar, Mulberry, Phulai, Alstona, Kachnar, Bottle Brush, Gul e Nashtar, Jaman, Kikar and Beera. He added that Pakistan is endowed with more than 200 native trees species and nine different forests and ecological systems.
A single healthy shady tree provides oxygen to as many as four people and 1,075 plants on a single hectare of land can absorb six to eight tonnes of carbon dioxide daily.
Tehmasip said that nurseries on 540 hectares were raised to bring maximum areas under forest cover in the province, particularly in erstwhile Fata.
UoP to back plantation drive
The University of Peshawar (UoP) on Sunday held a tree plantation event as part of the ‘Plant for Pakistan’ drive.
UoP Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Asif Khan said that the varsity has set the goal of planting some 2,000 trees during the ongoing campaign, while 400 trees were planted on Sunday alone.
Dr Asif underscored the importance of planting further trees even at such a green campus, noting that it gives a message of hope and responsibility which he hoped will trickle down to the society through their vast student community.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP
Published in The Express Tribune, August 19th, 2019.