ISLAMABAD: The government has asked the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) to conduct audit of the billion tree tsunami project which was launched by the PTI government.

Ministry of Climate Change has formally asked the AGP to conduct special audit of ‘National Strategic Support Unit of Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP), Phase 1, Upscalling of Green Pakistan Programme (Revised)’.

Former chairman of National Accountability Bureau (NAB) during his visit to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Directorate of NAB disclosed that the TBTTP was being probed by the bureau.

The billion tree tsunami is being implemented in all provinces including Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) through respective forest and wildlife departments. The ministry is supervising the programme through the Project Management Unit termed as National Strategic Support Unit (NSSU) of the billion tree tsunami.

According to the ministry, “to ensure transparency of the programme and value for money, it is imperative to conduct financial audit of the programme office which has not been conducted so far, as the programme is likely to be completed in 2023 ... a special audit of NSSU- billion tree tsunami may kindly be conducted for financial year 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-22.”

Climate ministry states this will create transparency

Sources said that AGP Ajmal Gondal is prioritising this audit and he will personally supervise the audit teams. Earlier in January this year, the PTI government announced that the third party audit report on the billion tree tsunami was being released soon.

The government had claimed that this innovative programme not only created the expanded supply of plants but also generated a major portion of 500,000 green jobs.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), large scale restoration initiatives such as the ten billion project are central to Pakistan’s efforts to support the UN Decade and to increase ecosystem restoration.

Pakistan is particularly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Bloomberg estimates that only 5 per cent of the country has forest cover, against a global average of 31pc, making it one of the six countries most vulnerable to climate change.

According to a UNDP report, Pakistan is particularly vulnerable due to increased variability of monsoons, receding Himalayan glaciers and extreme events including floods and droughts. The effects of these will be an increase in food and water insecurity.

It is a problem the Pakistan government is aware of and is looking at urgently addressing. Other than the billion tree tsunami the government is committed towards increasing its protected areas to 15pc by 2023 (in 2018 they stood at 12pc and today they stand at over 13pc).

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2022

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