Minister: (Minister okays over 35.8 million tree plantation target for ongoing monsoon season)


ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan has emphasised that present rainy season in the country provides an unprecedented opportunity to plant as many tree as possible all over the country for dealing with various environmental problems.

“All-out efforts should be taken to take full benefit of the four-month long ongoing wet season, which has drenched every part of the country, by planting tree on a large-scale. Because, these rains from mid-June to mid-September provide trillions of litter water for the seedling to grow fast and hold their grip on soil strongly,” the minister stressed while chairing a high-level “Inter-Ministerial/Inter-Provincial meeting on Monsoon Tree Planting Campaign – 2015” here on Wednesday.

Pakistan cannot cope with climate risks, particularly floods and torrential rains which have become increasingly frequent due to global warming, without increasing tree cover. “Forests hold back floodwater by nearly 72 hours and; hence, reduce intensity of the deluge water, lower chances of deaths and roads, building infrastructures, bridges and standing crops from being washed away or wiped out,” he argued.

The minister also reviewed country-wide state of recent spring season tree plantation and tree-plantation targets for four-month ongoing monsoon season, which begins from mid-June every year. Senior representatives of different ministries and provincial forest government told the minister that a target of over 35.8 million tree plantation has been set for the ongoing monsoon rainy season for the entire country.

Giving break-up of the provincial tree plantation target, provincial representatives told Mushahidullah Khan that 9 million tree will be planted in Punjab, 10 million in Sindh, 12.56 million in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 0.6 million in Balochistan and one million in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.

Representatives of the Capital Development Authority Islamabad told the minister that the civic body would plant 3,00,000 trees in different parts of the capital city, 1,00,000 of them inside the territory of Margalla National Park. The federal defence ministry’s official unveiled during the meeting that that they would plant one million trees.

Senior officials of the Pakistan Telecommunication Corporation, Pakistan Ordinance Factory, Heavy Textile Industry, National Highway Authority said that they have decided to plant one million, 7,000, 2,000, and 50,000 trees.

The minister was also apprised that provinces and different ministries and non-governmental organisations had set over 52.6 million tree plantation target was set for the last spring season. But the target has been surpassed by the provinces thanks to robust spring tree plantation campaign and planted nearly 60.8 million trees throughout the country, which is 8.23 percent more than the target.

Meanwhile, the minister also reviewed tree sapling/nursery sock available in different provinces for Monsoon 2015. The representatives of provincial and ministries also briefed the meeting about specific sites of planting and mechanism for monitoring survival rates of new planting.

He directed the provincial forest departments and ministries to take necessary arrangements in a timely manner to achieve the monsoon season tree plantation target of over 35.8 million trees.

The provincial forest department officials told the minister that special media campaigns have been hammered out to engage public, educational institutions, government departments, corporate and non-governmental sectors in the monsoon tree plantation drive and in this regard wide publicity campaigns will be initiated for raising awareness of the general public in tree plantation and its environmental benefits.

Climate Change Secretary, Arif Ahmed Khan, emphasized need for conserving soil and trees can play a vital role in this regard.

“Being a method to maintain the fertility of the soil by protecting the soil from erosion and nutrient loss, the soil conservation is important because soil is crucial for many aspects of the human life and non-living beings. For, it does provide food, filters air and water and helps to decompose biological waste into nutrients for new plant life,” he told the meeting.

Soil conversation involves working to reduce contamination and depletion. Certain human activities can result in the erosion of soil, such as land being cleared for farming or timber, the secretary elaborated during the meeting and said, “These practices can also affect the quality of the soil. One way to help increase quality is to rotate crops frequently or to add materials back into the soil.”

Soil may take hundreds or thousands of years to form, it is not easy to replace. Therefore, soil can be considered a non-renewable resource. If we do not take care of soils, we can ruin or even lose them, he cautioned.