Going green: Working towards a ‘Hara Bhara Karachi'

Urban planners, architects, civil society join hands for tree plantation drive

Trees along the sides of roads control the levels of poisonous gases emitted by vehicles and also provide an aesthetically better view of the thoroughfares. Hara Bhara Karachi plans to plant trees across Karachi. PHOTO: AYSHA SALEEM/EXPRESS

KARACHI: As many as 100 trees will be planted in front of the Customs House, from where efforts will be extended to Queens Road and end at PIDC. Customs collector Tariq Huda will head the tree plantation drive.

This was shared at a small meeting of Hara Bhara Karachi, a group comprising urban planners, architects and civil society. The group aims to organise a mass movement of tree plantation across Karachi in the wake of the recent heatwave in which thousands of people lost their lives in the city. Huda will be one of the members who will initiate this plan starting from Customs House. Participants at the meeting talked about the Ahmedabad model, in which deaths due to severe heat were brought from a soaring 1,300 to only seven by following a sustainable tree plantation movement.

Read: A green city: 100,000 trees to be planted in Karachi

Talking about the campaign, architect Shahid Abdulla said that the need of the hour is to identify the right species for plants, quantify the plan and work towards bringing back birds. "There used to be a time when there were woodpeckers in my house's lawn," he said. "We need to bring back that environment."

Karachi University visual studies department chairperson Durriya Kazi said that no new trees are planted in the parks of Karachi, making the sites of the city nothing more than commercialised nurseries.  Seconding her view, Amra Javed of Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment said there is a need to own these parks.

Uzair Akram and Kanwal of Plant a Soul Campaign talked about their tree plantation challenge in which they took the movement to social media. Incorporating the prevalent 'selfie' culture, the duo came up with the challenge of planting a tree. A person planted a tree, took a selfie with it and tagged a friend while uploading it; the tagged person was now obligated to follow suit. Uzair further suggested the idea of urban tree sanctuaries, in which all those plots that are vacant in DHA should be planted extensively with trees.

Read: Argentinian publisher makes books you can plant and grow back into trees

Kazi also chalked out agendas which, in her view, were the first steps to launch the movement. "Tree-cutting is only done for the purposes of advertisement and road expansion," she said. "A law should be passed barring the advertisers from putting up billboards at greenbelts and destroying the green area." Talking about the ridiculous placement of billboards across the city, landscape architect Komal Parvez said Karachi severely lacks in a landscape strategy. "The billboards have literally invaded the roads now," she said. "Trees and plantations have to be brought back for the sustainability of the city."

Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.


Hassan | 8 years ago | Reply @syed & syed: One person one tree is good enough, 2.5 crore trees or say 1.5 crore tree or even less than that would change the story completely. asking every person to plant 10 would be unrealistic and if followed would be over done.
syed & syed | 8 years ago | Reply All parks be restored and trees planted. It is duty of every Karchiite to plant at least 10 trees in his area. The entire road system and railway track be covered in coming monsoon
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