ISLAMABAD: A target has been set to plant 540 million trees throughout the country during spring this year, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said on Sunday.

Talking to journalists, Mr Aslam said a strategy for launching a nation-wide spring tree plantation campaign had been formulated in consultation with all provincial forest departments. Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to kickstart the spring tree plantation campaign on Feb 22.

“We have set a whopping target of planting over 540 million saplings all over the country during the spring season spread over February to April under PM Imran Khan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP),” the PM’s aide said, adding that 750,000 members of the Pakistan Boy Scout Association (PBSA) will join the plantation campaign.

Members of all governmental and non-governmental civil society organisations including educational institutions, National Assembly and Senate will take part in the campaign, he said.

PM to inaugurate campaign on Feb 22

Out of over 540 million, around 194 million saplings would be planted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa followed by 74 million in Punjab, 140 million in Sindh, 13.5 million in Balochistan, 98.7 million in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) and 20.6 million in Gilgit-Baltistan. As many as 674 events have been planned for the Plant4Pakistan Day (Feb 22).

Mr Aslam said a single-day target of planting 3.9 million saplings has been set while 12.2 million plants will be made available at various plantation sites all over the country for the general public.

Besides, 249.6 million plants would be available at officially designated nurseries in all provinces, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan, he said.

“Planting a tree in spring gives the tree an early start in the growing season. It can then spend the summer and autumn settling in and building a root system before the cold weather arrives.

“However, efforts should be made to take advantage of the ongoing spring season, by planting saplings on a large-scale in the country. This is the second major season after monsoon when the soil is ready after receiving good winter rains to let the seedling grow fast and hold their grip on soil strongly,” the PM’s aide pointed out, adding Pakistan cannot cope with climate risks, particularly floods, torrential rains, desertification, rise in sea level and heat waves, which have become increasingly frequent due to global warming.

“Forests hold back floodwater by nearly 72 hours and hence, reduce intensity of the deluge, lowering chances of deaths besides roads, infrastructure, bridges and standing crops from being washed away or wiped out,” he said, adding that there is also a need to conserve soil.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2022

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