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September 18, 2018

Imran Khan pledges to plant 10b trees in Naya Pakistan

Islamabad

September 18, 2018

The newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan pledged for a greener Pakistan vowing to plant 10 billion trees in his five years tenure. This is an extension of the environmental policy adopted by PTI which was brought to fruition in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) with the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ initiative.

A senior leader of PTI and Malik Amin Aslam, global vice president, IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) said that PTI in its manifesto had promised to expand and restore the fractured forests of the country through a ‘10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ spread over 5 years under principles of true forest valuation, community stewardship as well as public-private partnerships.

Pakistan’s north-western province KP planted an unprecedented one billion trees in just more than two years and surpassed an international commitment of restoring 350,000 hectares of forests and degraded land.

The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ initiative was launched as part of an international goal that calls for the global restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. The International Union for Conservation of Nature set up the Bonn Challenge in 2011 and more than 20 countries have so far signed up to the commitment. With this Pakistan became the first Bonn Challenge pledge to reach its restoration goal.

Pakistan is seventh on the list of the countries mostly likely to be affected by global warming and has one of the highest deforestation rates in Asia. The country is marred with decades of tree felling which has led to increase in carbon emissions, floods and lack of biodiversity. Both, climate change and environmental pollution pose a grave threat to Pakistan’s sustainable future. The negative impact on country’s weather pattern is already evident; rising temperatures, major flooding, prolonged droughts, unpredictable rainfalls etc cost Pakistan millions of dollars. Forestation and natural regeneration of trees will allow the soil not to erode easily and reinforce riverbanks while also adding tree resources to agricultural lands engaged in farm forestry.

The new initiative taken up by the Prime Minister aims to restore ecological integrity, restore the region’s depleted forests and fight the effects of global warming while at the same time as improving human well-being through multi functional landscapes.

This being the first time a Pakistani government is coming in with a strong environmental policy, this initiative will not only lead to alleviation of climate change but also creating socio economic opportunities in the region. With the initial initiative in KP coming into light, the KP government established hundreds of nurseries for tree saplings to be provided by them. In lieu of this creating green employment opportunities for the unemployed, the youth, and women in the province. Creating such opportunities will strengthen local communities by creating green jobs within the region.

The consequences of deforestation and other types of land degradation are severe, exacerbating climate change, biodiversity loss, and declines in ecosystem services that hundreds of millions of people depend on. The pledge to plant trees in Pakistan will also help mitigate the loss of biodiversity giving a healthier environment to survive in.

Breaking the spiral of loss and degradation and restoring these lands would bring untold benefits to people and the environmental in general. With growing industrialization and urbanization in various areas in the country, Imran Khan’s agenda for a greener Pakistan is a much needed step in the right direction. PTI government’s environment manifesto includes dam-building and water conservation initiatives to tackle drought; introducing green building codes and supporting clean energy.

The World Economic Forum lauded the efforts of the new prime minister with the first initiative taken in KP and now the pledge to plan 10 billion trees which has put Pakistan as next big country on the climate watch with its ability to affect the global warming scale. Other countries all over the world are moving towards a commitment to plant more trees to help mitigate the effects of climate change. In 2016, India made the world record for planting 50 million tree saplings in one day. Today, China is the biggest eco-investor with a plan to plant 66 billion trees to preserve the eco system of the country and to make a significant global impact.

Environmental degradation is fundamentally related to poverty in Pakistan roughly less than one-fourth of the country’s population, similar in most developing countries, is poor and directly hooked on natural resources for their livelihood whether agriculture, hunting, forestry, fisheries etc. Poverty combined with a rapidly increasing population and growing urbanisation, is leading to intense pressures on the surroundings. The environment-poverty nexus cannot be ignored if effective and pragmatic answers to remedy environmental hazards are to be considered. In Pakistan, as elsewhere, environment degradation is both a movement and a result of poverty. A delicate and damaged resource base is a major cause of poverty as agriculture yields are lower on degraded land, forests are depleted and access to vital livelihood resources declines. The declension of the environment continues to affect the livelihood and health, thus increasing the exposure of poor to disaster and environmental-related disputes. Environmental degradation, air and water contamination, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, desertification, vanishing biodiversity and land degradation have resulted in climate change and ecological imbalance.

The previous governments have Pakistan have only established frameworks to work on but have lacked any plan of action to execute those policies. Pakistan has been a part of number of summits concerning the impact of global warming, however any significant results are yet to be seen. The new prime minister has hailed a new era with an outright approach and a good example to show for his efforts instilling hope that Pakistan is going towards a more eco friendly future. Planting ten billion trees in Pakistan is ambitious as this project is the largest eco-investment ever to be done in Pakistan. If successful, the initiative will offer myriad opportunities to boost green development in the country through optimizing and enhancing ecosystem services, tackling climate change, improving water security or promoting green jobs.

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