ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday signed an agreement with the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, Pakistan and Engro Foundation to restore 50,000 acres of degraded forest lands.
“The private sector can play a vital role in restoring the country’s degraded forest landscape for achieving environmental and economic sustainability,” said Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while speaking at a press conference.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between WWF-P, Engro Foundation and the Ministry of Climate Change under which they would combine their efforts under a joint Forest Restoration Programme and restore 50,000 acres of degraded forest land in various parts of the country at a cost of Rs600 million.
Programme will be executed at a cost of Rs600 million
The PM’s aide said that degradation and loss of forests had already destabilised natural systems on a scale unseen in human history, adding, the world had already lost nearly half of the six trillion trees that existed on Earth before the onset of agriculture 12,000 years ago.
WWF-Pakistan would conduct the monitoring of the afforestation.
Mr Amin highlighted that collaboration and partnerships between the corporate sector and government were key to the country’s aim to conserve, restore and grow billions of trees for achieving sustainable development goals including climate resilience, food security, and access to safe drinking water and sanitation, fighting hunger, malnutrition and disease.
He regretted that despite fervent conservation programmes launched in different countries, the world continues to lose around 15 billion more trees each year due to unsustainable business practices, human production and consumption patterns, resulting in slowdown in economic growth, surging poverty, diseases, hunger, species loss and extinction.
Without conserving and restoring degraded forest landscapes and protecting, we would only jeopardise efforts including gains made so far for achieving sustainability of businesses and economies, which provide jobs and feed millions, Mr Amin said, adding that it was heartening to note that non-government and non-profit organisations, and some corporate leaders had long advocated the case for private sector engagement in forest landscape restoration.
“Now it seems to be an unprecedented window of opportunity for companies and NGOs to work together with governments to advance the world’s goals on protecting the planet, fighting poverty, hunger and loss of biodiversity,” he said, adding forests were critical to the sustainability of the planet as they sequestered carbon, regulated global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharged groundwater, anchored fertile soil and acted as flood barriers. “Forest resources harbour 80pc of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity and considered a treasure trove of innovation and a source of subsistence and survival for 350 million people.
“More than half of the annual global GDP, or $44 trillion, was potentially threatened by nature loss because business depended on nature and its services. As trees vanish, the services they offer are naturally weakened, lowering the productivity/health of soils and natural carbon sinks, diminishing the people’s access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation, food and reducing our resilience to extreme weather events,” the PM’s aide remarked.
Earlier, WWF-Pakistan Director-General Hammad Naqi Khan said that the forest landscape restoration was an important approach to restoring deforested and degraded land.
It involved bringing together people with diverse and diverging views and interests to create a plan in which both people and nature win, he added.
Engro Corporation President and CEO Ghias Khan said realising the full benefits that forests provide and the planet so dearly needs requires more than simply keeping current forests standing, a daunting goal that governments alone cannot achieve with their available scant resources.
However, he said, here we believe and understand that the corporate sector must play its role as a corporate responsibility towards environmental sustainability for restoring deforested and degraded lands across landscapes in the country.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2021