Project encouraging plantation in metropolis begins
KARACHI: The Maa Dharti Project to provide the city with a green cover was kicked off with a lecture on ‘Karachi monsoon 2018 tree plantation’ by Tofiq Pasha Mooraj, popularly known as ‘The Mali’, at The Second Floor (T2F) on Tuesday.
Mooraj started off by pointing out that people were concerned about the environment as it was affecting their lives. He said there had been hot summers and heatwaves, but it would happen once in several years. But lately, it has been happening regularly.
“The repetitive heatwaves have brought us down on our knees. Global warming is a huge factor in all this. Summers start early now making them longer and every time they are hotter than before,” he said.
‘City needs 27m more trees to reduce effects of hot climate’
This was so, he explained, because more and more people were coming to Karachi and thus there was more housing, more cars, etc.
“We are using fossil fuels. We are creating housing without planning. After spreading our living places on the ground we are now inclined towards vertical growth while leaving little room for air circulation,” he said.
“Still, Karachi is a desert and all deserts become cool in the evenings. Then we are lucky to also be a coastal city and there is sea breeze to cool Karachi but the high-rise buildings here heat up too much during the day as they are made of concrete which gets very hot,” he added.
The use of the umbrella was reminded then. It comes handy when there is rain, and it is also useful when one needs to shield oneself from the hot sun.
Karachi also needs an umbrella to return it its green cover.
“Trees can return us that shade. They don’t just take away the carbon dioxide from our air they also take away the carbon. The breeze passing through the trees is cool. The water a tree takes from the ground evaporates through its leaves to add to the cooling process of the atmosphere. Trees do so much for us,” Mooraj reminded, adding that at present Karachi needed 27 million trees to balance biodiversity which has become unstable due to the over-planting of Cornocarpus trees.
“It is essential to have shade trees with canopies because a vertical tree that hardly provides any shade will only cast a shadow on itself,” he said.
Speaking of shades and canopies, Mooraj said that right now the biggest shades in Karachi were the roofs of buildings and houses.
“They absorb most of the heat,” he said. “So you will need to cool the roofs down by making them green. The walls are also absorbing the heat but you can cool them off, too, by planting creepers,” he added.
“I can’t possibly do all this alone. So my game plan is to reach out to like-minded people through the social media and through such lectures and seminars to go green. But, obviously, you should also not go crazy while trying to fix things. Be organised, have a road map,” he said.
“You can’t just go and plant a sapling anywhere. Identify a place to do it. If you see a roadside lawn you need to ask permission from the owner of the house to plant a tree there and take him or her on board in your scheme too.
“You must ensure that you provide it with good soil so spend a little on the pit like you have done for the tree sapling. For a tree such as Neem, Gulmohar and Amaltas you will need a pit that is three feet deep and as wide. Then the ground in some areas of the city has been reclaimed from the sea so it may be sandy and [without] nutrients. Here you will need to dig deeper and pour in good soil. You also can’t plant a tree on a rock or in the sand.
“A sapling is a baby tree, it will need care in the beginning so you must water it every day until it grows long roots and finds its own groundwater. When it is little, you must also provide it with support by attaching a stick to help it stand firm in windy weather. You must ensure that it grows big and strong and is like that for 50 to 100 years. When you help something or someone only then will he, she or it also help you,” he said.
Earlier, Arieb Azhar, director of T2F, explained that culture cannot be complete until it goes hand-in-hand with eco-culture.
“To work for the environment we need to integrate eco-culture with our culture,” he said, adding that the Maa Dharti Project is going to be a series of workshops and seminars concentrating on all the aspects of trees and plantation along with the founding of a group by the name of ‘Green Guardians’ each member of which would adopt a tree sapling while ensuring its growth until it is big enough to care for itself.