News Analysis |
The Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change was briefed on Monday that 100 million trees will be planted all over the country in the next five years. The Inspector General Mahmoor Nasir said that trees will be planted across roads and canals, and mangrove forests will also be restored. He said 707 million trees were planted in four provinces between 2011 and 2016. The IG said that no formal definition of a tree was available in the past but now a plant that is at least three meters in height is considered a tree.
Pakistan is the seventh most vulnerable country to climate change in the world, which puts extra responsibility on the nation and the government to take increased steps towards mitigation of climate change. Trees are the best defense against climate change and global warming. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the chief global warming gas and responsible for climate change, CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, meaning that it blocks heat and radiation from leaving our atmosphere.
It was agreed that the only solution to combating environmental pollution is to work together and not engage in a blame game.
Global warming is the average increase in temperature of the Earth. Since the Industrial era, the average temperature of Earth has risen by 0.75 degree Celsius. Trees absorb CO2 and release oxygen during the day, this way they reduce the concentration of CO2 in the air and help to cool down the planet. Forest cover in Pakistan is 4.5% compared to the 25% international standards. It means that Pakistan has a long way to go to meet the minimum criteria. Steps like these are a positive development for a country like Pakistan.
Pakistan has lost 2.2 million hectares of land to the sea due to soil erosion. A major reason behind this is the loss of mangrove forests which have reduced from 260,000 hectares in the 1970s to 80,000 hectares in 2001. A project to restore mangrove forests will help retain many hectares of land. The same is true for rivers, 20% of Pakistani land is affected by erosion directly or indirectly, planting trees along canals will prevent that. The branches of trees have a binding effect on soil and it stops the sea and the rivers from eroding land.
The committee also discussed the issue of water contamination and lack of drinking water. It was also given a briefing on the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The senators urged efficient utilization of the funds for future sustainability of the environment.
12,000 acres of agricultural land was lost to the river, this is not only a huge setback for agriculture but it also reduces the capacity of rivers and dams because of soil deposition. Trees also reduce the amount of runoff produced by rains and floods; they can help mitigate the losses of floods. In short, the planation of trees means killing of multiple birds with one stone. Forests are central to many ecosystems and the survival of many species depends on survivals of certain forests.
In 2015, Imran Khan launched the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ and managed to exceed the target by planting trees across 348,000 hectares of degraded forest in KPK. The drive also helped fulfill the commitment of Bonn Challenge and KPK was the only sub-national entity to do so. KP government has invested 123 million rupees in this project and will be spending 100 million more for its maintenance through 2020. It makes it the largest eco-investment in Pakistan.
The committee also discussed the issue of water contamination and lack of drinking water. It was also given a briefing on the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The senators urged efficient utilization of the funds for future sustainability of the environment. It was agreed that the only solution to combating environmental pollution is to work together and not engage in a blame game.