KP government launches unprecedented afforestation plan in the history of Pakistan

KP government launches unprecedented afforestation plan in the history of Pakistan

PESHAWAR - The Khyber Pakthunkhwa Government has started work on a gigantic afforestation plan to increase forest areas up to 30 percent in next five years to mitigate growing effects of global warming and climate change in the country.

Under the plan, Billion Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP) has been extended to merged tribal districts of erstwhile FATA to use its vast land for plantation and efforts would be made to enhance forest cover to 30 percent from existing 26.3pc by 2023 in Khyber Pakthunkhwa, a senior official of Forest Department KP told APP on Sunday.

A comprehensive action plan has been evolved by Forest Department under which 33.474 million saplings available in departmental and private nurseries would be planted during ongoing spring plantation campaign in the province including recently merged tribal districts.

“Currently, we have around 17.490 million saplings fit for plantation and the remaining will be obtained through private sector,” the official said, adding in addition to it, bare-rooted and tub nurseries raised in different districts by the Forest Department were almost ready for plantation, which would be sown with the help of farmers, general public and national building departments in large scale.

It is for the first time that spring plantation campaign has been extended to merged tribal districts where 5.994 million saplings would be planted with the help of educational institutes, tribesmen, NGOs, forest department and Govt department to make these rugged and mountainous areas lush green.

As many as 5.717 million seedlings would be planted with help of masses and general public, 3.209 million through farm forestry, 0.571 million with help of defense forces and 0.376 million of educational institutions, the official said, adding focus would be made to native species in upcoming plantations to strengthen beekeeping sector.

A total of 26.3pc area is currently under forest cover in KP after registering six percent increase during last five years owing to whopping plantation of one billion and 18 crore saplings planted under Billions Trees Afforestation Project (BTAP), he said.

BTAP has remained highly successful as under this project 600 million plants were planted through enclosures over an area of 306983 hectares and 200 million through man made plantations in 263213 hectares besides 200 million saplings in 593292 hectares with help of farm forestry, registering overall all increase of 6.3pc in total forest area of KP.

He said BTAP was initially planned for five years with a cost of Rs 28000 million and later was redesigned at reduced cost of Rs 22000 million, adding 120pc of record one billion seedlings has been achieved at a total cost of Rs12982 million.

The official said said survival rate of BTAP as reported by WWF is 88pc and more than five lakh individual get jobs. BTAP was globally recognized in the fight against climate change.

The BONN challenge commitment of restoring of restoring and rehabilitating degraded forests and raising new plantations over 3,48,000 hectares, has been surpassed and the BONN Challenge through IUCN has certified this landmark achievement. He said additional 252000 hectares forests restoration pledge of KP Govt has been official accepted by the BONN challenge in its meeting held in Brazil during March 2018.

BTAP is the world's fourth biggest plantation drive in KP, after China, India, and Ethiopia and was also recognized by Asian Protected Area Partnership, World Economic Forum, Conference of Parties (COP-21), WWF and IUCN.

Peshawar has got 'Changa Manga' like mega forest at Gari Chandan where 2.5 million saplings were raised on 2500 hectares under BTAP.

He said similar forests were also raised in DI Khan where millions of plants were raised on Chashma Road. Keeping in view of successful completion of BTAP in KP, the Federal Government has launched Plant for Pakistan Program under which 10 billion saplings would be planted in the country including one billion in Khyber Pakthunkhwa during next five years. He said objective of extending of BTAP to merged tribal districts was to achieve target of one billion saplings set under Plant for Pakistan for KP.

The official said Secretary Environment and Forests Syed Nazar Hussain Shah and other senior officials of KP Forest Department has held important meetings with senior officers of respective forest departments of the provinces and shared our experiences with them about BTAP model.

He said KP Forest Department is ready to provide technical assistance to other provinces for Plant of Pakistan. “This substantial increase in forests cover was recorded after former PTI Govt 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.”

Incepted by Pakistan Forest Institute Peshawar, GGI's aim is to revisit and improve existing forest policy besides coming up with a viable solution how to combat climate change.

Capitalizing on GGI, the then PTI Government 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. Based on successful implementation of the above-mentioned initiatives, incumbent KP Govt during its cabinet meeting held on September 5, 2018, had decided to develop KP own Green Growth Strategy (KPGGS) with a direction to Secretary Environment and Forests KP to develop and submit recommendations for viable KPGGS along with action plan.

Subsequently, a high-level core committee was formed with proposed outlines for KPGGS including institutional legal reforms, development of sustainable infrastructure, promoting green and clean development, promoting green life style and green growth while reducing green house gas emissions, controlling pollution, inefficient use of resources and maintaining biodiversity.

The strategy devised for green growth was approved by KP Cabinet on November 8, 2011 with salient features to increase existing forest cover at least by 4pc till 2023 that can be achieved after plantation of additional one billion seedlings under Plant for Pakistan initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In line with GGI, the KP Forest Department has shaped new policy to involve private sector and local communities to plant additional one billion saplings in next five years besides supplementing natural regeneration in 6250 enclosures spreading over 250,000 hectares in under stocked forests through active participation of local community over the project period.

Efforts would be made to bring an additional 107970 hectares area over period of five years 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 plantations 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).

He said 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 would help protect and conserve Green Gold. APP/fam/