Going green: One tree for every one person needed in Karachi

Published: June 27, 2015
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Mehndi (Hina) Tree. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

Mehndi (Hina) Tree. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: Karachi needs immediate plantation of indigenous trees, artificial forests near the city and more public parks with big trees, suggested environmentalists and forest experts.

“Ideally, there should be one tree for one person,” said Niaz Soomro, the director-general of parks and horticulture, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). “We (Karachiites) are at least 65 per cent behind target.”

Soomro’s department maintains around 140,000 trees of the Conocarpus specie that were planted on the city’s main roads, Sharae Faisal, Karsaz Road, Rashid Minhas Road, New MA Jinnah Road and University Road, in 2008 as part of the ‘Green Karachi’ project.

“There is no space for trees in the city,” said Soomro. “Water shortage is another issue.” He suggested setting up artificial forests near the city. “They could be on the National or Super highways,” he said.

Read: Green day: Imran Khan inaugurates ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’

Environment experts believe that monoculture is anti-environment. According to them, exotic trees contribute to environmental pollution. “Multicultural plantation is required,” suggested Javed Ahmed Mahar, a forest expert and the conservator of Sindh Wildlife Department.

According to him, the city had its own indigenous trees, including Banyan, Ficus, Gulmohar, Kamini, Neem and Tamarindus. “One feels different when passing by old trees in the city,” he said, adding that the plantation of more local trees will certainly bring a rapid environmental change in Karachi. Mahar felt that the disappearance of forest trees from both sides of the Indus river contributed to the weather change.

Nadeem Mirbahar, an environment expert associated with the International Union for Conservation of Nature, disclosed that there was only seven per cent vegetation cover in the city in 2008. He said that the survey covered the entire geographical boundary of Karachi. “The minimum requirement is at least 25 per cent,” he said, adding that according to a plan initiated in 2008, the government had to launch a project to increase at least seven per cent more cover in 10 years. “I don’t think it has been implemented as yet.”

Weather effects

Talking about the current heatwave in Karachi, Mirbahar said that it is not limited to roads or open spaces alone any more. “The heatwave directly hits your home, office and shops,” he explained. “We need environment-friendly construction.” He further suggested that everyone should own at least one tree. “The trees regulate environment and reduce the urban heat island effect.”

Most experts believe that ruthless cutting of trees and residential schemes in the port city have also contributed to the unbearable weather. “Trees are our asset,” said a senior official of the KMC, Raza Abbasi. “It is a crime to cut a tree.” He said that it takes years for a tree to bloom but people chop it down in minutes. “Unfortunately, we don’t have forests and need green areas urgently.”

Read: Spring: Plantation drive kicks off

The Sindh forest department refuses to share responsibility in the city’s forest cover. “We maintain coastal forests,” said Sindh forest department chief conservator Mir Nadir Ali Talpur, adding that it is the responsibility of the city government to maintain vegetation cover in Karachi. Talpur said that mangroves are spread over an area of 175,000 hectares across the coastal belt of Sindh, with the majority of the area in Karachi and Thatta.

Many experts said that there is a lack of planning in the public sector department. They said that the concept of plantation and the importance of greenery do not exist among the citizens.

“The Bin Qasim Park is the biggest park of the city but do you see any big tree there?” asked Mirbahar. “The people of Karachi need large trees. We have to bring our trees back and it’s high time to realise its importance or we’ll have a tough time in the coming years.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • N.Sid
    Jun 27, 2015 - 10:19AM

    I fail to understand why the Cornicarpus trees in theso called model parks are cut to turn them into 2-3 feet shrubs. Why don’t Niaz Soomro, director parks and horticulture makes it a point to let the trees grow to its full natural height and not cut it on regular basis.
    Now I see trees in Qasim park, Clifton and Aziz Bhatti park constantly cut to 2-3 feet size, and they are planted too close to each other. They should be replanted at a proper distance and let them grow tall, shady and with thick foliage, now they looks like shrubs.
    Also many trees in the city is cut by the outdoor billboard companies. People need to boycott products displayed on such hoardings and billboards. The new type of small billboard, pedestal type, pylons have played havoc with trees, these should be removed and banned, they are obstructing the pedestrians as well and are causing accidents as well. Hope Niaz Soomro will look into this grave issue of cutting of trees in model parks and elsewhere. Recommend

  • Jun 27, 2015 - 12:08PM

    Conocarpus shouldn’t have been planted in the first place. Now that they have been, they have to be trimmed so that the berries do not appear as their pollen is harmful for health.Recommend

  • Lord of the Ring
    Jun 27, 2015 - 2:56PM

    With sindhi corrupt waderas looting Karachi in the name of democratic majority

    there’s no scope of any good work including plantation in KarachiRecommend

  • Salman
    Jun 29, 2015 - 12:48PM

    Corrupt government has sold out the parks to Builders and build flats and malls.Recommend

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