Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the protection of the country's environment is a top priority of his government.
Addressing the 7th Asian Regional Conservation Forum of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Islamabad, the prime minister highlighted the natural diversity of Pakistan.
According to Radio Pakistan, he said that the country has twelve ecological zones from deserts to Himalayan forests which are rare in the world. However, he noted that population growth and a lack of interest in the protection of environment in the past had devastated wildlife and forests in the country.
Prime Minister Imran said the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the first to deal with climate change by launching the Billion Tree Tsunami project. He credited the local population for the success of the initiative as well as action against timber mafia in the province.
He said the federal government has now embarked on an ambitious plan of planting 10 billion trees. He announced that the government will now launch massive tree plantation drives across the country as the necessary planning has been done and infrastructure including nurseries developed in the first year.
The youth will drive this massive campaign, the prime minister said, announcing that environmental protection will also be made part of the school curriculum.
He said the government has also decided to resort to a vertical expansion of cities. Regretting that Lahore's "70 per cent" trees were cut down in the past 10 years, he said that town planners need to be more conscious of environmental protection.
Talking about global efforts to tackle climate change, Prime Minister Imran regretted the United States' decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.
Speaking on the occasion, the IUCN president hailed the government for launching the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project. He said he is impressed by the forestation that took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the last five years. He also appreciated the mission and passion of Prime Minister Imran to address the issue of climate change.