Provincial, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and FATA governments have been asked to hammer out respective plans and submit them to the federal government along with financial requirement for implementation of the Prime Minister’s five-year flagship Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) across the country.

“As a part of implementation of the Green Pakistan Programme, we have written formal letters to the concerned authorities of provincial and Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and FATA governments to roll out detailed project plans that should include areas identified for plantation of trees and programmes for protection and conservation of wildlife species. They have also been asked to submit their financial requirements for implementation of the forest plans in their respective areas,” Syed Mahmood Nasir, Inspector General Forest of the Climate Change Ministry, told media briefing here on Tuesday.

He told the media that the marathon programme that aims to reinvigorate ailing forestry sector in the country and protect the wilidife animals and plants from extinction, had been envisioned by the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, which reflects his seriousness towards tackling deforestation and the negative impacts of climate change through forests.

Syed Nasir told media further that under the Green Pakistan Programme, over 100 million trees would be planted across the country at a cost of Rs 10 billion during next five years (2016-2016), for which  the prime minister has allocated initially two billion rupees for the next two years (2016-17 and 2017-18).

Developed in extensive and intensive consultation with all provincial governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, the programme has been chiseled in line with relevant component on the Environment and Climate Change of Vision 2025 and 11th Five Year Development Plan (2013-18) approved by the Planning Commission, the senior forest said.

He hoped that ths international 2030 UN Development Agenda known as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would pave the way for environmentally-sound solutions, with forst conservation and protection being at the top of the agenda.

He informed the media that under SDGs target 15.2 each country has responsibility to protect, enhance and sustainably manage its forest areas by 2030.

Highlighting the unprecedented value of the forests for a climate-vulnerable country like Pakistan, Syed Mahmood Nasir said, “Pakistan is deficient in timber production to meet its need of wood and wood products. Therefore, through this umbrella project bringing more areas under tree cover and increasing productivity per unit area can bridge up the gap between supply and demand at national level. However, the sustained forests and their allied natural resources will help in balance the economy of the country.”

The overall improvement of forestry sector in the country was a continuous and long term process, which needed to be addressed properly at federal, provincial and regional levels through a long term development programme as well as donor assisted initiatives, he added.

He said that Pakistan is among the top forest-deficient countries of the world, having total forest cover of the country of about 5 % of its total land area.

“The rate of deforestation is very high, which is causing serious problems including land degradation, soil erosion, loss of biological diversity, flash floods and various other associated ecological threats. In hilly areas of the country natural forests are subjected to heavy pressure of human activities of different kinds. In the context of climate change and the impacts of global warming protecting natural forests have now become a significant policy imperative of any country to ensure its economic growth, environmental stability and long term social security, he told media while counting negative effects of deforestation  in the country,”

Earlier, Climate Change Ministry Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan Shah Gilani briefed the media about Pakistani delegation’s participation in the second meeting of the  United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-2) held on 23-27 May 2016 in Naribi, Kenya, which was attended by over 2,500 delegates from nearly 174 countries.

He told media that negotiations in three drafting groups resulted in the adoption of 25 resolutions during the final plenary, which ran until almost 4:00 am on Saturday, due to disagreement on a draft resolution calling for an environmental assessment of the Gaza Strip.

Pakistan had strongly supported the resolution on ‘field based environmental assessment of the Gaza Strip’. However this resolution was not approved by the plenary due to objection raised by the Israel and USA, Mr. Gilani told media during the press briefing.

Talking about Pakistan’s representation in the international UN-led meeting, Syed Iftikhar-ul-Hassan Shah Gilani said, A four member Pakistani delegation to the UNEA-2 was consisted of Mr. Raza Bashir Tarar, High Commissioner & Permanent Representative, High Commission of Pakistan, Nairobi (Head), Mr. Iftikhar ul Hassan Gilani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change, Mr. Abdul Munaf Qaimkhani, DIG (Forest), Ministry of Climate Change and Mr. Shahbaz M. Malik, Counsellor, High Commission of Pakistan, Nairobi.”

He further informed media that the Pakistani high commissioner in Nairobi has been unanimously elected as Chair of the Asia Pacific regional group. Mr. Tarar as a head of delegation and regional chair ably and effectively represented the country and group in UNEA plenary, COW sessions and G-77+China meetings.

Giving further details about the delegation’s participation in UNEA-2, the Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) Mr. Gilani said that Pakistan’s delegation actively participated in the negotiations of drafting groups on different resolutions particularly resolutions on promoting effective implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, combating desertification, land degradation and sustainable land management of rangelands, and dust storms; last but not least the marine plastic debris and micro plastics; as well as illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife products.