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KARACHI: The British government has lauded the government of Pakistan’s efforts on successfully initiating and implementing the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project, to tackle climate change and champion green growth in the country.

The initiative not only includes tree plantation and regeneration but also focuses on supporting implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 on proactively working to prevent degradation of forest land.

In 2014, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project, which was monitored by WWF-Pakistan, and successfully achieved the billion tree plantation target.

Forests have been at the heart of WWF-Pakistan’s work for more than half a century focusing on protecting these natural resources, the biodiversity they harbour and the communities that rely on them for survival.

In 2019, about 1.6 million native tree species were planted in different cities of Pakistan by WWF, highlighting the importance of a green Pakistan. Moreover, about 1.002 million native plants were planted with the involvement of the Provincial Forest Department, academic institutions and civil society in 2020.

WWF-Pakistan is also part consortium with the IUCN and FAO for third party monitoring of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project (TBTTAP).

Apart from these, other efforts by WWF include the agroforestry assessment that was conducted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh.

Lord Aamer Sarfraz, Member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom and Board Member, WWF-Pakistan acknowledged the successful implementation of the Ten billion tree tsunami afforestation Project during a recent session of the House of Lords held on 25 January 2021. Lord Sarfraz stated, “Pakistan is showing global leadership in tackling climate change. The Ten Billion Tree Tsunami is an effort that all Pakistanis can be proud of.

There is no doubt that 2021 is the year of planet Earth, and by the COP26 due to be held later this year, we hope to celebrate more successes from Pakistan.” He continued, “WWF-Pakistan’s efforts to conserve the snow leopard and Indus river dolphins have been incredibly impactful, and now there are opportunities to show leadership in the global campaign against illegal wildlife trade.”

The UK Environment Minister, Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park termed the afforestation initiative as a great achievement, which the world can learn from and emulate. He further added, “Pakistan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami project is one of the most ambitious tree planting initiatives in the world and is a successful precedent for others to follow. I absolutely, enthusiastically, commend and celebrate Pakistan’s Ten Billion Tree Tsunami initiative and the tens of thousands of jobs that have been created due to the project. It goes to show what is possible and what can be achieved.”

The 26th session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), that will be held in the UK from 1 to 11 November 2021, will bring countries together to accelerate action towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. This will also provide a platform to highlight Pakistan’s successes and achievements with regards to the Ten Billion Tree Plantation drive and other significant conservation successes.

According to Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President, WWF-Pakistan, “Pakistan is one of the top countries most affected by climate change where remote communities are most vulnerable whether it is in the Indus Delta or the northern areas of the country.

The Government of Pakistan has given top priority to mitigating the effects of climate change and through initiatives such as the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project we can make a tangible difference. WWF appreciates that the success of the Ten Billion Tree Afforestation Project was highlighted in the British parliament. The initiative is an inspiring example for other countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Additionally, Pakistan needs to further step-up efforts to ensure that international agreements are ratified and implemented in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) so that forests of Pakistan are protected.”—PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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