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    ‘Plant for Pakistan’ initiative to reverse deforestation, combat climate change

    EnvironmentClimate change‘Plant for Pakistan’ initiative to reverse deforestation, combat climate...
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    ‘Plant for Pakistan’ initiative to reverse deforestation, combat climate change

    Pakistan’s billion trees afforestation project focuses on forestry, protected areas, national parks, clean energy, climate resilience, sanitation and water management. It is presently in full swing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

    By Fakhar Alam

    Like many other developing countries, Pakistan too is confronted by the monster-like challenge of deforestation and climate change. About 27,000 hectares of forests are vanishing every year due to excessive demands for wood and the vulnerabilities of the weather, besides socioeconomic reasons.

    According to the national forest policy of 2015, Pakistan has only five per cent area under forests against an internationally accepted requirement of 25 per cent. This low area under forests is also threatened as the country is losing about 27,000 hectares of forests every year, mostly in community and private owned lands due to climate change susceptibility, encroachment and a growing population.

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    The policy forest further revealed that forests in private and community lands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan are also under tremendous pressures due to climate change and population explosion.

    Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical placement, deforestation and highest population growing at two percent rate annually.

    The negative effects of climate change and deforestation were evident during the recent snow storm in Murree where 22 people had lost battle for lives besides worst drought conditions during 1999-2003, the devastating of 2010 floods, the formation of glacial lakes in the mountainous regions and cyclones on coasts of Karachi and Gwadar in 2008.

    Billion trees afforestation project

    In view of deforestation and climate change vulnerabilities, the government devised a green growth initiative focusing on forestry, protected areas, national parks, clean energy, climate resilience, sanitation and water management. Subsequently, the billion trees afforestation project (BTAP) was launched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in November 2014. It entails raising a record 1.208 billion saplings at an estimated cost of Rs. 14.363 billion.

    BTAP is the world’s fourth biggest plantation project successfully implemented by Pakistan after China, India and Ethiopia. The project has increased Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s forest covered area to 26.6 percent in 2018 against 20 percent in 2013, thus surpassing the 25 per cent international forests standards. Satellite images show an 85 per cent positive change detection in forest cover area of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The world-wide fund for nature, WWF, attested to an 88 per cent survival rate of BTAP plantations.

    Such has been the success of BTAP that Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the launch of a 10 billion tree afforestation project, or 10BTAP on 2 September 2018. The government undertakes to plant 10 billion trees in the country including, providing an additional one billion seedlings in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 2023. Work on 10BTAP is successfully underway in the province where 505 million saplings were planted through farm forestry, enclosures and general public till 31 January 2022.

    270 million plants were raised through man-made plantations, 30 million through sowing and dibbling while over 200 million trees were planted voluntarily by citizens. The target of additional one billion saplings will be achieved through natural regeneration in 6,259 enclosures, including 2,000 enclosures in merged areas spreading over an area of 250,000 hectares and raising of new plantation on 111, 314 hectares besides the establishment of biodiversity knowledge parks and others forests initiatives.

    New forests and green jobs

    Work is in full flow. In the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for instance, the recently launched spring plantation will see the planting of almost 105 million saplings with assistance of stakeholders under conventional plantation. Of this, as many as 13 million seedlings would be sown in southern circle comprising Peshawar, Kohat, Nowshera, Charsadda, Swabi, Kohat, Bannu, Dera Ismail Khan, Karak, Hangu and 22 million in merged tribal districts. Besides, 42 million saplings will be planted in the northern forest region covering the Abbottabad of Hazara divisions and 26 million will be planted in the Malakand division.

    Of these, 63 million plants will be planted through departmental plantation and over a million more through mass planting in urban and peri-urban plantation. Another 29 million will be planted through a farm forestry initiative while 1.7 million trees will be planted by roping in village development committees. School children will plant more than 2.5 million trees.

    10BTAP includes fruits and ornamental plants and also flora for beekeeping. Close to 200 million seedlings including, 2.8 million fruits plants and three million ornamental plants will be distributed free to citizens, various organisations and farmers. Civil society organisations will be planting 24 million trees. About a berry million saplings will be distributed and sown in southern districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to promote apiculture.

    In terms of immediate human impacts, this exercise entails creating 2.840 million green jobs during the project.

    Recognized by BONN Challenge, Conference of Parties (Cop-21), World Economic Forum, WWF and IUCN, he said the project has greatly helped in raising of 10 new jungles including Ghari Chandan and Azakhel Mathani on 3,000 hectares with 3.2 million plants in Peshawar.

     

    Image: Hippopx, licensed to use under Creative Commons Zero – CC0

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