The Green investment

WITHOUT wasting any time, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf government has practically launched its first ever programme and that too in the area of environmental protection to save the country from unusual and extreme climate patterns. This indeed is an asset for future of the country. In its election manifesto, the PTI had promised to plant ten billion trees across the country in five years, building on the success it achieved in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where party’s provincial government planted one billion trees in the last five year tenure and received much acclaim worldwide.
The first phase of this campaign titled ‘Plant for Pakistan’ on Sunday undoubtedly is a step in the right direction as the general public was involved in it through distribution of free saplings at about two hundred distribution points across the country. The plantation drive indeed shows the commitment of PM Imran Khan towards the very important issue of climate change but it will be unfair not to acknowledge the work of Adviser on Climate Change Amin Aslam who in a matter of few days planned such a mammoth exercise on such a large scale. Appointing Amin Aslam as head of climate change could rightly be called a right man for the right job as he has the necessary knowledge and understanding of environment related issues and challenges, and we are sure he will go ahead with his innovative plans to make Pakistan a really climate resilient country.
Today climate change is described as bigger threat than terrorism and Pakistan is amongst the six countries that according to experts will be most affected by environmental degradation. One has already seen its impact over the years through erratic monsoon seasons, flash floods and heat waves that all together claimed thousands of lives. Currently, the country has meagre 2.2% of aggregate forest area and experts have already warned that Pakistan could run out of forests in the next fifty years if deforestation continues at current rates. Therefore, the government’s massive plantation drive is a very timely initiative but it will only produce desired results, if the saplings planted are also nurtured and protected till they turn into trees. This is not possible through a one day drive and those who planted saplings on Sunday as part of ‘Plant for Pakistan’ campaign are required to water and look after their plants at least for the next few months till they attain some size and height.
Similarly, such campaigns should not be confined only to big cities but also expanded to smaller ones as well as rural areas. Trees should be planted along both sides of roads in the rural areas besides the people there should also be educated about the importance of trees through radio and television programmes. Talk shows on the electronic media should now go beyond discussing mere political issues and give space to such important subjects, which will really bring a healthy change in mindset of the people. Most importantly, the existing natural forests should be fully protected from the timber mafia by giving ownership to local communities. A special force may also be raised for this purpose in all the provinces. Forest farming has emerged a big success story in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This model should also be expanded to other provinces as this will not only create economic opportunities for the people but also help meet wood requirements of the country locally without damaging the natural forests.
Apart from forestation, we need to build climate resistant infrastructure and raise capacity of our institutions to meet any natural calamity without causing much damage. In addition, steps are also warranted towards curbing all kinds of pollutions including air and water pollution in order to fully protect the environment from further degradation.

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