Prime Minister’s Advisor on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam said Saturday that afforestation activities have been prioritised by the present government, because forests have been recognised as the most effective, cheapest way to tackle fallouts of the global warming-caused climate change on the country’s critical socio-economic sectors, particularly agriculture, water, energy and health.
“The important services forests provide are often ignored or underestimated by many of us as long as we wake up to the unprecedented importance of the forests in dealing with deleterious fallouts of climate change,” he said while talking to media here today in connection with the preparations and targets for the spring season tree plantation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan is set to kick off national spring tree plantation drive on February 23 (Tomorrow) by planting a tree sapling in the country oldest Kundian forest area in Mianwali district. The plantation drive will continue across the country till June 30 under the theme ‘Restoration of Degraded Forests’ as a part of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (10 BTTP).
Malik Amin Aslam told media that a target of around 250 million tree saplings has been fixed for the spring 2020 season under the 10 BTTP afforestation programme, conceived to re-invigorate the country’s ailing forestry sector. These tree saplings would be planted across the country, most of them in not only new vacant areas but also in the degraded forest areas, he added.
Besides wiping out pollutants from the environment, the forests offer various key services for survival of socio-economic lives, sustained provision of livelihoods of the people and the planet earth’s sustainability, Amin Aslam highlighted.
“Trees, in fact, help protect soil from degradation and regulate water on farms, mitigate floods, regulate weather and enrich biodiversity. Besides, crops grown in agroforestry systems are often more resilient to drought, excess rain and erratic weather patterns,” the prime minister’s advisor explained the benefits.
Spelling out the spring season tree plantation targets set by provinces, Azad Jammu & Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and other governmental oranisations, Inspector General Forests of the Ministry of Climate Change, Muhammad Sulyman Khan Warraich said that a whopping target of 100 million tree sapling plantation has been set by the Punjab provincial government, 83 million tree plants by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 23 million by Azad Jammu & Kashir region, 20 million by Sindh province, 12 million by Gilgit-Baltistan region, one million by Ministry of Defence, 0.6 million by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 0.5 million by Capital Development Authority, 200,000 by National Highways Authority, 100,000 each by the Heavy Industrial Taxila and Pakistan Ordinance Factory and remaining plants by the non-governmental oraganisations.
Sharing details of the tree plantation activities to be carried out on the Plant for Pakistan’ day. Which falls every year on February 23, the inspector general forest said, “The day will be celebrated across the country with hash tag (#PlantforPakistanDay) , which is the spring season’s day of the largest tree plantation programmes.
He elaborated further that nearly 1.3 million tree saplings would be planted across the country on the ‘Plant for Pakistan Day’ and for this around 440 plantation events have been planned throughout the country by the provincial forest departments and non-governmental organisations, educational institutes.
Meanwhile, Malik Amin Aslam told media that these tree plantation activities and events being taken under 10 BTTP basically aims to recover the country’s degraded tree cover lost because of unchecked deforestation in the country over last a few decades and bring thousands of new hectares of land under trees during in coming years.
“We believe that boosting the forest cover is a part of the national climate action to enhance country’s climate resilience against climate change disasters, particularly floods, heat waves, sea-level rie, sea intrusion, land erosion, landsliding, disappearing of natural water springs in mountain areas, erratic and shifting weather and rainfall patterns,” he stressed.
Which is why, the present Imran Khan-led government envisioned and are implementing the 10BTTP, under which 3.29 billion trees would be planted across the country at the cost of around Rs. 125 billion.
“It is high time that the forests got the recognition as the right, effective way to fight environmental degradation and its importance understood by us all for the sustainability of the country’s socio-economic sectors, lives and livelihoods,” he said urging the nation to play their part in protecting the existing forests and planting new trees.
Malik Amin Aslam directed the ministry’s forest officials and urged the provincial forest department officials to play their more active role in engaging public, all stakeholders, particularly educational institutions, corporate sector, NGOs and media to boost sensitise about the importance of forests in sustainability of the earth’s overall ecosystem, biodiversity, our lives and livelihoods and their role in coping with climate change-induced impacts.