KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah has said more and more trees should be planted in order to reduce global warming, and directed the forest department to take steps in this regard.

He was presiding over a meeting of the forest department at CM House here on Tuesday which was attended by Chief Secretary retired Major Azam Suleman, P&D Chairman Mohammad Waseem, Additional Chief Secretary Forest Sohail Akbar Shah, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput, Finance Secretary Noor Alam and other officers concerned.

Briefing the chief minister on the performance of his department, Sohail Akbar Shah said 17,186.5 acres of forest land had been vacated while the remaining 106,292.04 acres would soon be vacated as they were in the process of litigation.

Calls for establishing more mangrove forests

It was also pointed out that 64,497.62 acres of forest land had been allotted illegally in Karachi, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Thatta, Dadu, Larkana, Kandhkot, Khipro, Khairpur, Mirpur Mathelo and Tando Mohammad Khan.

The chief minister directed him to cancel the allotments after fulfilling legal formalities and pursue the cases of encroachment in courts so that the land could be retrieved from encroachers.

He also asked the secretary to prepare a new lease policy and send it to him for consideration and adoption. He also suggested the department to target the opportunities of establishing mangrove forests on potential blank areas and conserve about 250,000 acres of rehabilitated mangrove forests through community households.

The CM said trees should be planted around roads, canals and strategic installations.

Talking about the achievements of the department, Mr Akbar Shah said they had generated Rs240 million from agroforestry leases, and sale of wood and minor forest products etc.

He also pointed out that the department had developed new forests over 3,000 acres through regeneration in riverine area and new plantation had been made over 828 acres.

The other achievements included conservation and management of Indus delta mangroves over 25,000 acres, establishment of linear plantation over 400km, raising of 4.535 million container plants and distribution of 8.911m saplings.

The key challenges as spelt out by the forest secretary included reforestation/re-plantation in state-owned forests, increase in tree cover on farmlands through farm forestry/social forestry practices, vacation of encroached areas to bring them under tree cover, and covering agroforestry lease policy into 100 per cent tree growing policy.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018