Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday the force behind the government’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project and other such endeavors was its objective to leave behind a Pakistan with protected environment and free from pollution.
Addressing a tree plantation ceremony here to mark the plantation of One Billionth Tree under 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project, the prime minister said that the objective of his government’s environment-friendly initiatives was to “mitigate the impacts” of climate change.
“We really want to leave behind a better Pakistan for the future generation,” he said. “We have seen when there used to be huge forest cover, wildlife, clean water and no pollution. But the situation deteriorated as no one pursued long-term approach,” the prime minister told the ceremony.
Prime Minister Imran planted a deodar sapling at the Makhniyal Forest – the site where he had also launched the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government’s One Billion Tree Tsunami and the federal government’s 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
He appreciated the efforts of Malik Amin Aslam, his special assistant on environment, for the success of One Billion Tree Tsunami and the ongoing efforts for 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project which were being recognised globally.
“Just like India, Pakistan’s rivers are fed by glaciers, which are melting fast and can beget issues in the the future,” Imran said, adding that the previous governments did not pursue long-term approach to address these issues.
The prime minister called for learning lessons from the Chinese model of reversing the damages done to environment. “Through the billion tree tsunami projects, the government is striving to protect the wetlands and revive the wildlife which has reduced to a great extent,” he said.
“After massive plantation in water-logged area along the river in Dera Ismail Khan, the wildlife, including birds, have returned to the area. He announced that Pakistan would host the World Environment Day on June 5 to highlight before the world how it was protecting its natural capital.
Minister for Economic Affairs Omar Ayub, State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul, State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib, special assistants to prime minister Malik Amin Aslam and Dr Shahbaz Gill, and Senator Faisal Javed were also present at the ceremony.
On the occasion, the UN Environment Programme director presented a report titled ‘Inclusive Wealth of Pakistan: The Case for Investing in Natural Capital and Restoration’ to the prime minister. The report highlights that Pakistan’s inclusive wealth had increased by 2.3% annually during 1992-2019 period.
During that period, according to an analysis of the individual capital categories in the report, human capital and produced capital grew at a rate of 2.9% and 3.2%, respectively, while natural capital declined negligibly, around 0.1%.
Read more: PM pledges free universal health coverage
The UN report points to exciting recent developments in Pakistan’s management of natural capital. “Afforestation across the country as part of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme is expected to boost the nation’s renewable natural capital resources, particularly in the decades to come,” it said.
“The10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project has helped make Pakistan a global pioneer in forest restoration by combining community participation, green jobs creation and strong political commitment. Overall objectives of the initiative are to improve the quality and extent of protected areas, encourage eco-tourism and promote community engagement and job creation.”
Malik Amin Aslam said that the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Project had created 85,000 jobs during Covid-19 and thousands more would be added during the current year. He added that the project had become an identity of the country that was why Pakistan had been selected to host World Environment Day.
Apprising the gathering of the finding of a third-party assessment of the planted trees across the country under the federal government’s projects, Aslam said that 90% survival rate has been recorded at 72% sites, 85% at 24% sites and 75% at 4% sites.
Highlighting the salient features of the UN report on environment protection, to be launched on the World Environment Day, Aslam said that the world body had acknowledged the positive growth of natural capital during 2015 to 2019 which had been negative earlier.