WWF-Pakistan praises launch of Green Pakistan Programme
The WWF-Pakistan has praised the launch of the Green Pakistan Programme by the premier over 100 million trees will be planted in the country. The contributions of forests to the well being of humankind are far reaching. Forests provide vital wood supplies and help to combat rural poverty, ensure food security, offer watershed protection, provides decent livelihoods and habitats to diverse animal species. Over the past 50 years, about half the world’s original forest cover has been lost, the most significant cause being unsustainable use of its resources.
Forests also greatly influence climate change by sequestering carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Pakistan accounts for less than one per cent of carbon emissions in the world but is among the top ten countries affected by the climate change phenomenon, and is highly vulnerable to changing weather patterns. The year 2015 has proven to be an unusual year for Pakistan due to unpredictable weathering events across the entire country.
During the past two decades, Pakistan has lost 25 percent of its natural forests with an annual rate of forest land almost two per cent. The most affected and threatened forest ecosystems are mangrove forests (found in the coastal area of Sindh and Balochistan), coniferous forests and riverine forests. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s state of forest report of 2010, Pakistan has only 2.5 percent of its area under forest and at 2.4 percent per annum Pakistan has the highest rate of deforestation in Asia.
The initiative is expected to have a positive impact on the flora and fauna of the country, which are depleting at a fast pace. The programme brings hope to organisations striving for conservation of the country’s natural resources as it envisions growing, intact ecosystems with their full complement of wildlife and plants and will also contribute in achieving the sustainable development goals targets.
WWF-Pakistan President Ahmer Bilal Soofi has suggested that both the federal and provincial governments, while developing China-Pakistan-Economic-Corridor- related activities, weave in their economic planning proper protections of the 218 notified areas including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. He has also urged the government and the other state bodies who exercise any kind of legal control over the land which is a subject matter of notification – necessary co-operation for the implementation of the said statutory regulatory orders is crucial. He also recognised that provincial governments should also be proactive in undertaking pro-environment activities, and the tree plantation campaign by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government is also well appreciated. In fact, other provinces should also take steps for protection of these areas and implementation of the SROs.
The WWF-Pakistan team is prepared to render necessary assistance to the Federal and Provincial governments. The organisation also recommends planning indigenous species of the region; planting trees where needed (ie floodplains, vulnerable watersheds and degraded slopes); GIS-based monitoring to gauge the survival rate and impact of plantations; and establishment of community-based nurseries to bring in green employment.