Tree plantation drive

Up to 3.5 million saplings have been planted on Sunday under a country-wide tree plantation campaign across the country in a single day to improve the country’s environmental index besides meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dream of having a billion tree plants in the country. Over the decades, the country has lost chunks of forests, which were developed and grown in the pre-Partition time, to the timber mafia with the connivance of corrupt forest division officials. This is the first time a government has launched a plantation on such a large scale and this long battle has been taken to save posterity from the effects of climate change and global warming. The footprints of climate change have shown their destructive signs in the country and now Pakistan is among 10 most vulnerable countries to impacts of global warming. The bizarre weather patterns have threatened the country’s food security. In the spring last, unprecedented rain systems and hailstorms have wreaked havoc on the ready-to-reap wheat crop causing a huge fall to the per acre yield. Now, the country, which has been housing surplus wheat stocks since 2009, has to import wheat to meet the domestic consumption. This time, the plantation campaign had the active role of government-sponsored Tiger Force but people from all walks of life participated in the campaign in maximum numbers. The government is making important and meaningful strides towards a green Pakistan. Provincial governments have offered incentives to landowners to fill their empty spaces with trees. Side by side, the ‘Protected Areas Initiative’ has been initiated to strengthen 15 national parks and protected areas.

More alarming is the World Bank report that has identified certain districts in Punjab and Sindh which will be not fit for living by 2050 if trees are not planted there. The government should involve international environmental bodies in the tree campaigns to make them transparent and meaningful. What will be the good of such campaigns if they end up with acres of invasive and anti-environment species? Hopefully, the planted saplings will be mature trees in the coming months and years and will help the country to counter the losses incurred due to climate change. The Geremenwatch 2020 report states Pakistan suffered 9,989 deaths and economic losses of $3.8 billion due to more than 300 extreme weather events in the last 20 years due to changing weather patterns. Hopefully, the tree plantation campaigns will bring about positive changes to climate as well as economy.

More alarming is the World Bank report that has identified certain districts in Punjab and Sindh which will be not fit for living by 2050 if trees are not planted there. The government should involve international environmental bodies in the tree campaigns to make them transparent and meaningful.

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