Value Of Afforestation
Experts call human activity in the form of industrialisation the primary cause of climate change. However, deforestation is the activity with the most devastating effects on the climate and environment of the planet, in general, and that of Pakistan, in particular. Though the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is wary of the climate change and its negative impacts on human life and environment, however, it seems that the government did not make any feasibility report in this regard.
The government, in its drive of Billion Tree Tsunami (BTT), planted eucalyptus. This tree grows more quickly; however, it needs water in enormous quantity. A better option is to plant trees that use water more economically than any other tree.
Studies suggest that Pakistan will be amongst the top ten countries that will bear the harshest effects of climate change in the future. And the loss in forests and lack of urban vegetation is worsening the crisis. Therefore, the government has no other option but to take afforestation up if it wants to reverse the adverse effects of deforestations.
Pakistan has a low forest cover, i.e., 2%, according to the World Bank (WB). The PTI government in February this year kicked off a countrywide 10 Billion Trees Tsunami campaign. And a promising aspect of the new drive was that it was being launched in the most populous cities in its initial phase. Still, the urban reforestation process is nowhere in sight.
Heat and air pollution are directly linked to the tree cover, and cities like Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad and Peshawar are losing their tree cover at an alarming speed. Urban reforestation is going to play an important role in minimising the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect. In cities, the small area covered by trees and other vegetation is shrinking at a rapid pace, worsening the UHI effect. The government has to understand the value of urban afforestation; otherwise, the tree plantation drive will be of little value to cities.