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Pakistan to plant 100m trees to cope with climate change

Pakistan takes action on depleting water resource and rising environmental threats

Islamabad: Pakistan aims to plant 100 million trees across the country over the next five years, to cope with rising environmental threats and depleting water resources in the country, officials say.

The 100 million saplings would be planted under the Green Pakistan Programme (GPP).

Around 3.6 billion rupees (Dh120 million) has been budgeted for the forest and wildlife policy over five years, from 2016 to 2021, the Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was informed.

The woodlands will help reduce flooding, cut air pollution levels, and contribute to food production, the officials said.

The livelihoods of millions will also be improved through the project, which is expected create a new habitat for wildlife and boost climate change defences.

“At least 707 million trees have been planted in the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas between 2011 and 2016,” inspector-general for forests Mahmoud Nasir said.

Briefing the committee, he said trees would be planted alongside roads and canals, while mangrove forests would also be increased.

Pakistan has approved a standard definition of forests and it was now agreed that a plant which is at least three metres high is to be considered a tree, Nasir said.

He said monitoring forests is a complex matter as each province follows different standards.

However, Pakistan will soon introduce a national forest monitoring system.

The Committee meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mir Yusuf Badini and was attended by Barrister Ali Saif, Nusrat Sadiq, Gul Bushra, Saleem Zia, Ahmad Hassan and Mushahid Hussain Syed as well as Khizar Hayat Khan, secretary ministry of climate change, and Farzana Altaf Shah, director general of Pak-EPA.

The committee was briefed on the Green Climate Fund (GCF) which is a fund within the framework of UNFCCC, to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change.

Members of the committee expressed concerns over water pollution, depletion and contamination of groundwater as well as presence of arsenic in the water. In this regard, the government has asked the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) to verify the level of arsenic.

Senator Mohammad Ali Khan Saif urged that concrete steps should be taken by both federal and provincial governments to provide clean drinking water and to reduce environmental pollution.

To improve forest cover, the government of Pakistan is also implementing REDD+ which stands for countries’ efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.

In August 2017, Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province reached a new milestone by planting one billion trees in two years, exceeding a global commitment of restoring 350,000 hectares of forests and degraded land. This green initiative was launched to restore lost forests and slow down the effects of global warming as Pakistan is ranked seventh on the list of the countries mostly likely to be affected by climate change.

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