Islamabad—During spring season this year, 26.5 percent more trees against the target were planted across the country. Climate Change Ministry media spokesperson, Saleem Shaikh told media here on Sunday that a tree plantation target of 153 million was set for the spring season during a high-level inter-ministerial and inter-provincial meeting held in the climate change ministry on January 29.
The meeting was chaired by the Climate Change Minister Zahid Hamid, who had approved the target. “But 208 million trees were planted during the three-month spring season, which is staggeringly 55 million more than trees planted against the target of 153 million trees in short span of three months,” Saleem Shaikh said.
The spring season begins from mid of late February and lasts till end of April. Giving break-up of the spring tree plantation target achieved and set, the climate change media spokesperson said Punjab forest department planted 13.92 million trees against target of 12.09 million trees followed by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 175.64 million trees against the target of 123 million trees, Sindh 7.1 million trees against 6.799 million trees, Balochistan 1.093 million trees against 1.5 million trees, Azad Jammu & Kashmir 3.157 million trees against 1.3 million trees, Gilgit-Baltistan 0.711 million trees against 1.1 million trees, FATA 4.389 against 4 million trees, Capital Development Authority 2,59000 trees against 300,000 trees, National Highway Authority 70,034 trees against 1,25,000 trees, Ministry of Defence 6,30,000 trees against 700,000 trees, Heavy Taxila Industry 3,610 trees against 5,000 trees, Pakistan Ordinance Factory 9,200 trees against 15,000 trees and non-governmental organization IUCN planted 100,000 trees against 250,000.
He said that tree plantation targets are set twice a year for spring season (February-March) and monsoon season (June-September). †re plantations during these two crucial season are vital to boost tree cover to make the country climate-proof.
“Role of forests in tackling climate change impacts, particularly floods, soil, wind and river erosions, sea-level rise, erratic and torrential rains, is now being recognized globally and so by the present Pakistani government,” he said. Pakistan is home to forests over around 800,000 hectares, which constitutes to be five percent of the total land mass of the country.
“But the country loses forests over some 27,000 hectares every year. This trend of deforestation has exposed the country to the negative fallouts of the global warming-induced climate change,” he highlighted.
The present PML(N)-led government is abreast of the country’s exacerbating vulnerability to the climate change impacts and was taking all-out measures to boost climate-resilience of the country.
The climate change ministry spokesperson Saleem Shaikh explained “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s ambitious Green Pakistan Programme is a clear indicator of the present government’s unquestionable seriousness towards protecting socio-economic sectors, lives and livelihoods of the people from the climate change impacts, which have shown rise in frequency and intensity.”
“The climate change ministry has boosted its efforts and in close contact with the provincial, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and FATA forest departments to make the Green Pakistan Programme (GPP)a success story in the region, which has been well applauded by the international, regional and national forest conservationists, environmentalists and climatoloigsts,” the spokesperson Saleem Shaikh told media.
He added that under the Rs. 10 billion GPP, around 105 million trees would be planted across the country in next five years, for which the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had already approved two billion rupees for the two financial years (2016-16 and 2017-2018) The equal amount is to be contributed by the governments of the federating and three administrative units
The spokesperson said further that the programme would be launched on August 14 this year, for which a grand launching ceremony would be held in Islamabad. Highlighting significance of the forests in tackling climate change, he said that being major source of livelihoods for millions the forests play different major roles in this regard.
“They have the potential to absorb about one-tenth of global carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them – in principle in perpetuity,” Saleem Shaikh elaborated. He says that the important services forests provide are often under-estimatd or ignored. “They can act as safety-net for local communities, boosting their ability deal with climate risks, particularly floods and erratic and heavy rains. Mangrove forests, for instance, can hold back storm surges or cyclonic flooding and mountain forests help stabilize soil and hence stop soil erosion as well as landslides,” he argued.
According to reports, two billion people worldwide still rely on forests for their primary source of fuel, he highlighted and added that woodland has a huge role to play in regulating water supplies – decreasing storm runoff and reducing the pollutants in rainfall before it reaches local water sources.
The forests are also one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, absorbing 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year and storing billions more, the climate change spokesperson Saleem Shaikh said while quoting a report of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture organisation. Some scientists have warned in the report that deforestation must be cut by 50% by 2020 for the best chance of meeting this target.