Under the Billion-Tree Tsunami Project, Pakistan plans to plant one billion trees by 2023 to regenerate degraded lands and, in the process, to provide the much-needed employment to its burgeoning population. The country has a mere 5% forest cover compared with the global average of 31%. Deforestation in the country took place at a fast rate over the years, so the need was felt to undertake reforestation on a large scale. The tree plantation campaign has also been driven by the growing impact of climate change and the need to reverse the process.
Pakistan is among the 10 countries of the world most vulnerable to the consequences of global warming-induced climate change resulting from unprecedented deforestation in the recent past and increasing emission of greenhouse gases. The ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels is releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The situation went on deteriorating with the decline in green cover as trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere which supports human and other life forms. Trees not only take in carbon dioxide, they also help store the harmful gas. Besides, trees help in storing carbon dioxide in the earth preventing soil erosion and aids in increasing soil fertility. Increased green cover helps lands rendered barren become arable. There are irrefutable scientific evidence, supported by experience, that trees can transform deserts to green farms and dense forests. The increasing emissions have disrupted the climate pattern. There is either little rain causing drought or excess of it resulting in floods. Global warming has given rise to freak weather events which are causing glaciers to melt at a rapid pace and the sea level to rise dangerously.
The billion-tree initiative was launched in 2014 by the then provincial government of K-P, and now it is well on its way to attain its aim of planting one billion trees at the national level. People in different parts of the country are growing saplings which they supply for afforestation, thus providing jobs to millions.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2021.
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