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Climate change minister inaugurates monsoon tree plantation drive

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Muhammad Yousaf Sheikh on Thursday inaugurated the monsoon plantation drive under Green Pakistan Programme by planting a tree at Trail 5 near the office of the Islamabad Wildlife Management Board.

The federal minister said Pakistan is a forest deficient country having just 5.01% of total area under forest cover. Highlighting the importance of forests, he said that forests are unique and diverse ecological systems that provide timber, fuel wood and a variety of other products such as medicine, aromatic plants, wild fruits and berries.

In addition to these products forests also provide environmental and ecological services such as carbon sequestration, water regulation, soil fertility regulation and habitat for biodiversity, he said.

Due to a multitude of direct and indirect factors such as increasing population, limited alternative options, exploitation, lack of capacity and natural manmade hazards forest resources are continually depleting.

He further said plantation is not only necessary for the provision of ecosystem services but also as mitigation and adaptation measures to counter the negative impacts of climate change.

He further highlighted in order to respond to these issues, large-scale efforts have been made at the national and provincial level to rehabilitate forest resources through ‘Green Pakistan Program’ and ‘Billion Tree’ afforestation project.

However, there is still need for more coordinated and concerted efforts by all segments of the society to halt the ongoing deforestation and improvement in the forest cover by raising more plantations.

“Today’s event is a step in the direction,” he said, adding that the government is resolved to actively engage academia, student and civil society to achieve this challenging task.

He also highlighted the government has set a target of planting 47.14 million plants during the current monsoon season. He also stressed to focus more on areas having less forest cover, and said it is important to increase survival rate of plants through protection and care.

National Project Director of Green Pakistan Program Masood Ali briefed about monsoon plantation targets 2018. According to the targets Punjab would plant 9 million, Sindh 11 million, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 15 million, Balochistan 0.6 million, Azad Jammu and Kashmir 3.6 million, Gilgit-Baltistan 0.5 million, and the areas previously under FATA 5.3 million.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence would plant one million, National Highway Authority (NHA) and International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 0.5 million each, Pakistan Ordinance Factory and Aeronautical Complex 20 thousand each, and Heavy Industries Taxila has set the target of 100,000.

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