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CM Sindh urges Forest Dept to launch linear plantation, vacate encroached lands

KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on Tuesday directed the Forest Department to start linear plantation and urban forestry by planting trees on roads, canals and strategic installations as cities have become heat islands and need effective massive planting.

The chief minister, while presiding over a meeting to review performance of Forest Department, said there was a dire need for a massive tree plantation drive. He added that social forestry and planting trees on non-forest lands is also required.

Additional Chief Secretary Forest Sohail Akbar Shah briefed the chief minister on the performance of his department. He said 123,478.54 acres were encroached land out of which 17,186.5 acres forest lands have been evacuated while still 106,292.04 acres need to be cleared.

He pointed out that most of the illegal encroachments cases of forest land were under litigation. CM Sindh directed to start raising forests on vacated land and pursue the cases in the court so that land could be retrieved from the encroachers.

The chief minister was told that the Forest department generated Rs240 million from agro-forestry leases, sale of wood material, and sale of minor forest produce, etc.

It was also pointed out that 64,497.62 acres of forest land has illegally been allotted in Hyderabad, Karachi, Sukkur, Thatta, Dadu, Larkana, Kandhkot, Khipro, Khairpur, Mirpur Mathelo and Tando Mohammad Khan. CM Sindh directed ACS Forest to cancel the allotments by fulfilling legal formalities.

ACS Forest, while speaking about his achievements, said that the forest department has developed new forests over 3000 acres through regeneration in riverine areas, while new plantations have been made over an area of 828 acres.

Other achievements include conservation and management of Indus Delta mangroves over 25,000 acres, establishment of linear plantation over 400 km, raising of 4.535 million container plants, distribution of 8.911 million saplings in the province till June 2018, and another 9 million saplings during the monsoon and set up new Guinness world record of planting 1,129,294 mangroves plants in one day on April 19, 2018 who certificate is expected till September 17, 2018.

The key challenges as spelt out by ACS Forests include reforestation and replanting on available blank forests areas in state-owned forests; increase in tree cover on farmlands through farm forestry/social forestry practices; vacation of encroached areas to bring them under tree cover to reduce the effects of climate change, and covering agro-forestry lease policy into 100 percent tree growing policy.

CM directed the secretary to prepare a new lease policy and send to him. He suggested the forest department to target opportunities of establishing mangroves forests on potential blank areas and to conserve about 250,000 acres rehabilitated mangroves forests through community households.

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