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PESHAWAR: Massive monsoon tree plantation campaign formally launched across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including erstwhile FATA under PTI government flagship ‘Plant for Pakistan’ project to offset growing effects of global warming and climate change in the region.

Project Director, Billion Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP), Muhammad Tahmasip Khan told APP that the plantation campaign has been formally launched after inauguration of Chief Minister KP by planting a sampling at Peshawar Zoo.

Later, Provincial Ministers, Advisers and Assistants to the Chief Ministers, Secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners and others stakeholders also inaugurated the monsoon campaign.

He said millions of plants were raised in Forest Department’s nurseries established on 540 hectares land being planted with assistance of defense forces, NGOs, national building departments, educational institutes, farmers and general public under Plant for Pakistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has launched ‘Plant for Pakistan’ in September last year under which 10 billion saplings would be planted across the country including one billion in KP over a period of five years.

Pakistan is blessed with bounties of natural resources varying from deserts to Alpine meadows, rivers, plenty of sunshine, rich biodiversity, different forests zones and this potential would be tapped through Plant for Pakistan.

Tahmasip said PC-1 of 10 BTAP has been approved under which 50pc share each would be provided by Federal and KP governments to achieve plantation target of one billion saplings during next four years in the province under Plant for Pakistan.

Federal government would provide Rs7.5 billion and KP government would contribute Rs2billion for plantations related activities during 2019-20 under 10BTAP in the province, he said.

Forest Department would try to increase forests covered areas from existing 26.3 to 30percent after carrying out massive plantations in merged areas where vast land is available for plantations.

He said about Rs9 billion would be spent on afforestation related activities during next five years First man made forest on pattern of ‘Changa Manga’ had been raised on 32,000 hectares at Ghari Chandan near Peshawar where 3.2 billion saplings mostly native plants were planted during 2014-17 to control temperature and air pollution besides bolstering chances of rains.

Presently, the growing trees at Ghari Chandan have gained a height of 12-15 feet, which would help mitigate air pollution and climate change in Peshawar, he informed.

Tehmasip said a record 1.20 billion trees including 42 different native plants were planted in first phase of BTAP in KP.

A total of 26.3pc area was currently under forest cover after registering 6 percent increase during last five years owing to whopping plantation of 1.20 billion saplings planted under BTAP.

This substantial increase in forests cover has been recorded after former PTI government devised and implemented Green Growth Initiative (GGI) with main focus in six focal sectors including forestry, protected areas and national parks, clean energy, climate resilience, water and sanitation and waste management.

Capitalizing on GGI, the then PTI government has successfully started and implemented BTAP besides devised first-ever provincial climate change policy 2016, range land policy and Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD)+ strategy with main focus on increasing forestry cover through massive plantations.

Efforts would be made to bring an additional 10,7970 hectares area besides improving forest quality and sustainable forest management, restructuring and institutional improvement.

The problem of deforestation and degradation would be addressed by involving local communities to take care of new plantation with financial support besides reducing gas emissions through REDD+ viz a viz carrying out livelihood improvement and poverty reduction through promotion of non-timber forest produce (NTFP).

Establishment of Biodiversity Knowledge Parks, promotion of range land management through innovative and modern range management techniques, development of eco-tourism in line with

Forest Ordinance 2002 and KP Rules of Business 1985 and adaptive research for development of Climate Smart Forestry.

Tehmasip said BTAP project was globally recognized in the fight against climate change. The BONN challenge commitment of restoring and rehabilitating degraded forests and

raising new plantations over 348,000 hectares, has been surpassed and the BONN Challenge through IUCN has certified this landmark achievement.

He said additional 252,000 hectares forests restoration pledge of KP government has been officially accepted by the BONN challenge in its meeting held in Brazil during March 2018.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2019