Urban forestry is the answer

AS the country especially major cities are bearing brunt of extreme weather conditions, Ministry of Climate Change has suggested a way out by emphasising the need for investing in urban forestry to help transform cities into more sustainable, heat wave and urban flood-resilient, healthy, equitable and liveable places. In a statement on Sunday, it pointed out that country’s urban areas including Karachi, Hyderabad, Nawabshah, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad will continue to remain increasingly vulnerable to various socio-economic, environmental and climate change-related problems.
According to experts, trees, when planted properly around buildings, can lead to reduction air conditioning needs by 30 percent, save energy used for heating by 20–50 percent during winter season and increase property values by 20 percent. Similarly, fresh water streams passing through cities and dams within the limits of the cities or in the suburbs can help reduce temperature by several degrees. We have experienced all this in the Federal Capital where adequate green cover exists both within and around the city and presence of Rawal Dam is having salutary impact on its overall temperature and environment. Due to CDA’s apathy unplanned urbanisation and illegal housing societies are playing havoc with Capital’s environment besides frequent fires that we witness in Margallah Hills. Still much can be done in Islamabad by way of plantation as well as restoration of its streams but this is not true of adjoining Rawalpindi where scope for tree plantation is very limited because of haphazard growth. However, situation can change not only in two cities but also elsewhere in the country if authorities concerned focus on construction of small and medium dams in and around cities, restoration of fresh water streams and making it mandatory for civic agencies as well as housing societies to plant more and more trees and nurture them properly.

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