ISLAMABAD: In a bid to enhance the biodiversity and green cover in Margalla Hills, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has prepared a PC-1 for a project worth over Rs2 billion to plant 10 million trees in the park.

The CDA is in process of sending the PC-I to the federal government to secure funding in the upcoming fiscal year 2024-25 under the public sector development programme, with the cost estimated at Rs2,158.614 million.

Islamabad is a stretch of over an area of 908 sq. kilometres in which – as per the master plan – Margalla Hills and 32 acquired villages consist of 39,000 acres of land which was declared as a national park in the 1980s.

The park is located on the northern edge of Islamabad, south of the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, extending over 15,782.74 hectares (39,000 acres).

Civic agency aims to plant 10m trees, build check dams, hire guards for national park

The PC-I for the project ‘Enhancing the biodiversity and green cover by managing the natural resources, maintenance and rehabilitation of the landscape of Margalla Hills National Park’ has been prepared by the environment wing of the CDA and it will be implemented over five years.

‘To enhance Flora and fauna’

According to the PC-I, the main objective of the project is to “enhance the flora and fauna” of the national park and its preservation for the attraction of the public and tourists.

The PC-I claims that the project will also be helpful in the “mitigation of climate change” and through this project, the CDA will improve the aesthetics of the national park.

“Being home to a variety of flora and fauna, this national park not only provides recreation and research opportunities but also plays a vital role in maintaining the environment of the capital… The proximity to the capital has further increased the government in protecting and improving the soil, flora and fauna of the national park,” reads the document.

“High birth rate and shifting of settlements from other corners of the country, Islamabad city is rapidly losing the green cover due to construction activities and facing various other environmental issues: one is depleting groundwater,” the PC-I document reads.

According to the PC-I, at present two invasive species i.e. lantana and paper mulberry cover 7,150 acres of land of the park which are obstructing local species.

Similarly, these mountains have their watershed value and main source of fresh water but due to less green cover most of the water is going to waste due to high run-off, it reads.

The PC-I said that preference will be given to local species such as ‘chir pine’, ‘amaltas’ and ‘kachnar’ and guards will also be hired for the protection of trees.

The CDA also plans to construct check dams and water ponds in the park.

Speaking to Dawn, the member environment said that all aspects were covered in the PC-I. This project is imperative for improving biodiversity and green cover in the federal capital, he said, adding that it will have far-reaching impacts.

The PC-I, besides others, was signed by Director General Environment Qaiser Khattak, Member Environment Shahzad Khalil, and CDA Chairman Anwarul Haq.

Published in Dawn, February 29th, 2024

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