By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Feb 09 (APP):Around four million students across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are all set to back the provincial government in its endeavors to combat climate change challenges with a target to plant 45 million saplings in one-day on February 20.
It is for the first time in history of the country that such a large number of students from KG to PhD level would participate in spring afforstration campaign in a bid to achieve the target of additional one billion saplings under 10 Billion Trees Afforstration Program (BTAP) in KP by 2023.
Following successful implementation of first phase of BTAP-2014-17 under which more than 1.20 billion saplings were planted over an areas of 230,000 hectares and 4509 enclosures, registering six percent increase in KP’s total forest areas ie 26.3 pc in 2018 against 20.3pc in 2013, the government has decided to launch 10BTAP in all four provinces with major share to KP of additional one billion plantation in next four years.
The national afforstration programs would be successful only when people of all walks of life including local communities were financially empowered like wildlife trophy hunting programs and giving them a sense of ownership to properly look after the plantations and mother trees for regeneration of natural forests resources and its socio-economic impact on their lives.
Talking to APP, the Provincial Minister for Environment, Forests and Wildlife, Syed Istiaq Urmar said, “Global warming and climate change loom large and posing serious threats to developing countries like Pakistan in terms of food insecurity, environmental degradation, health, renewable energy and water resources, we have decided to plant 45 million saplings in spring season by engaging four million students of schools, colleges and universities including those from merged areas on February 20”.
He said PTI government was vigorously pursuing PM’s Plant for Pakistan Program keeping in view the climate change threats and planned this key initiative to be taken under an inclusive MoUs signed among the Elementary and Secondary, Higher Education and Forest Departments to achieve the targets set by Ministry of Climate Change, Islamabad.
The Minister said students of Government and Private educational institutions from Chitral to D.I Khan and South Waziristan to Kohistan would participate in the special afforestration drive.
He said if every student plant at least 10 saplings then 40 million saplings would easily be planted during spring.
Muhammad Tehmasip Khan, the Project Director said participation of such a large number of students would immensely help achieve plantation target of 80 million seedlings in spring season in KP including erstwhile FATA against 100 million target set for this year.
The Project Director said 10BTAP has been extended to newly merged areas where its vast land would be utilized to achieve the set targets. He said farmers, Village Developmental Committees (VDCs), general public, officials of national building departments, defense forces, civil society and NGOs would also be involved during spring plantations in erstwhile FATA.
Tehmasip said lands for 10BTAP has been identified in merged areas and more suitable afforstration sites are being searched in Bajaur, Khyber, South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Orakzai, Mohmand and Kurram tribal districts.
He said the selection of species for 10BTAP has been completed and would be utilized keeping in view climate and soil conditions of the areas. Under range land policy, around 1375 hectares and 10 watershed areas would be treated.
In VDCs, mostly comprises of local tribesmen would be involved to help Forest Department in protection of new afforstrations in merged areas for at least five years. Under farms forestry scheme, free ornamental and fruits plants would also be distributed among people, who provide lands for the national afforstration campaign.
He said, “Forests laws were extended to merged areas under which forest check-posts were established with assistance of district administration on important communication points connecting ex-Fata, KP and Afghanistan to curb illicit transportation of timber and wood resources.”
The Ministry of Climate Change was extending full support to KP Forest Department in execution Plant for Pakistan, he added.