THIS refers to the letter ‘Planting trees’ (March 27) regarding the news attributed to a former prime minister’s aide that 800,000 scouts would participate in spring tree plantation. No doubt it will be a great initiative and hopefully the new government will keep the plan active so that it may bear fruit in time. However, I have my doubts about the suggestion of increasing the number of planters by 100 times and making all those millions of planters become lifelong guardians of those saplings.

Karachi is a mega city with its population growing every day, but there are not many trees. The grown-up trees are often cut to make way for building roads or for construction of multistorey buildings. This phenomenon is not unique to Karachi, and green belts are being mercilessly destroyed in other large cities, too.

The green cover is also being reduced by numerous housing societies. Also, it is alleged that in many areas forest lands are being encroached upon by influential persons of the surrounding areas.

In Karachi, the construction of the Malir Expressway will surely damage the green cover unless remedial measures are taken simultaneously by the Sindh government, the municipal committees and the local councils.

The importance of trees and the green cover needs to be explained to the people at the household level across the country. The households may be convinced to plant trees first in their houses or outside their houses. The saplings so planted have better chances of growing up and becoming trees.

I have two grown-up trees; one inside the house and the other outside. During the scorching summers, passersby often take shelter under the shade of the tree outside my house. I consider it my humble contribution to society.

In case all or most households adopt such approach, a large number of trees can be seen growing up in every city. The schools, the mosques and the factories can grow trees in their respective compounds. The teachers and the students can jointly plant a sapling and take care of its needs like watering or pruning.

Likewise, the managements of mosques can plant trees in the compound and around the mosques and take care and protect the trees, while factory managers can depute a few persons for the purpose. Planting of trees in parks, and along canal and river embankments should be done by the employees engaged for this purpose.

The country badly needs trees and green cover and it can be possible only if the entire nation realises the importance of trees and participate in the campaign, increasing the forest cover all over the country.

Pakistan happens to be among the countries having the least forest cover. federal, provincial and local governments should protect green areas and increase forest cover under their respective domains.

Muhammad Bashir Chaudhry

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2022



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