LAKKI MARWAT/ BANNU/ DI KHAN:
Reiterating the intention of planting over one billion trees across the highlands and lowlands of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has said it is imperative to launch large-scale afforestation programmes in order to protect the ecosystem and rural livelihood.
He also said the much-touted Billion Tree Tsunami campaign has received international recognition which is a positive sign, adding, “The campaign will be a watershed effort in this regard.”
Imran expressed these views on Monday while inaugurating forest land in Paroha in DI Khan, Bannu and Lakki Marwat regions.
The number game
While talking to journalists in DI Khan, Imran said, “1.2 billion trees will be planted in K-P till 2018.” He added, “The number of planted trees in the province has reached 100 million and efforts are under way to plant more trees by March 2016 to achieve a target of 250 million.”
The PTI chief said, “Forests like Changa Manga will be created in at least 12 different places in southern districts of K-P. Only 600 million trees have been planted since Pakistan’s existence but the PTI will plant one billion trees in only five years.”
The PTI chief also visited places like Kundi Ishaq and Rurra and planted trees. He said trees will be planted on land which was previously barren.
Imran said the existing and newly-expanded forestlands of the province will be guarded by a new force that will be armed and trained.
Without naming any individuals, Imran said the government will take to task all those involved in organised unwarranted tree felling and timber smuggling. He added, “We have introduced a new GIS system through which forest land will be monitored via drones which will facilitate in better surveillance.”
Going green initiative
As part of the Green Growth Initiative, the PTI chief said the government aims to increase forestlands by 22%, conduct bi-annual plantation drives and double the size of national parks over a period of five years.
Elaborating on the intended objectives of the campaign, Imran added the programme will provide an umbrella to the tree farming industry, prevent soil erosion and thus conserve natural resources. “It is encouraging to know people are giving away their land for free for the purpose.”
Imran pointed out, “The World Wildlife survey says our campaign success ratio is 75 to 85%.”
On the occasion, Imran also set free three falcons which were seized from smugglers by the wildlife department, DI Khan.
Bannu, Lakki Marwat in focus
Imran visited Kashu Pul in Bannu and monitored the progress of the tree plantation campaign. He was accompanied by forest department officials, Bannu commissioner and others. Divisional Forest Officer Farhatullah briefed the PTI chief and said, “At least 1.4 million saplings have been planted in the district so far, covering approximately 232 acres of land in the area.”
Imran later reached Lakki Marwat where he inaugurated the plantation drive by planting saplings in Tor Tala and Wandha.
A shorter version of this story was published in The Express Tribune, November 24th, 2015.
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