HARIPUR: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday launched a countrywide drive to plant 10 billion trees across the country in five years to counter challenges of global warming and deforestation.
The prime minister was accompanied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Adviser to the PM on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq, and officials from the forest department.
The prime minister inaugurated the “10 billion tree tsunami” drive by planting a sapling of deodar in the Makhniyal area where he had also kicked off the “billion tree tsunami” project of the KP government in 2015.
The first day of the drive was observed as “Plant for Pakistan Day” when around 1.5 million saplings were planned to be planted in a single day across the country.
Says enhancing forest cover is crucial for fighting global warming
Talking to reporters after launching the drive, the prime minister said Pakistan would be the seventh most affected country by global warming so enhancing forest cover was crucial. The plantation drive was crucial for the generations to come, he said, adding that it was the fight for life and death. He said that though this plantation season was about to end, the government would keep up striving to make this initiative a success.
The prime minister said the PTI-led KP government had planted around 1.18 billion trees in the province during its previous term and under this drive, trees would be planted across the country, be it’s plains, roadsides or any empty space.
In reply to a question, the prime minister said tree plantation was not solely the government’s job, rather it was about the whole mankind and the whole nation. “Everyone must take part in the campaign to plant trees else the land will turn into a desert as the glaciers are already melting owing to global warming.”
He said the massive plantation would also help address the challenge of growing pollution, like smog, in cities. He said that unfortunately timbers worth Rs200 billion were axed during the previous decade.
Prime Minister Khan said the government would also create awareness among the young generation about the importance of trees and forests by inculcating the subject in school curriculum.
Earlier, Malik Aslam said the government would adopt the KP model to ensure the success of the country’s largest-ever plantation drive. He said that around 200 plantation distribution centres had been set up to provide saplings to people free of cost.
The adviser said excessive plantation was of utmost importance for the country to tackle the challenges of climate change and water shortage. He said the factors behind the success of billion tree tsunami project were zero tolerance towards timber mafia, effective preservation of forests to allow the regeneration and involvement of the private sector and local community.
He said the survival rate of trees in KP had been around 80 per cent and hoped that it would be achieved across the country. He said the one billion tree tsunami project had created around 0.5 million jobs and the new drive would generate even more openings.
Mr Aslam said that besides enhancing the forest cover, the drive would also help bring green economic development in the country.
Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2018