Prime Minister Imran Khan’s flagship Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation (TBTTP) initiative is not only helping the country to counter the environmental crisis and promote a unique environment-friendly form of entrepreneurship for unemployed women and youth of the rural areas, but has also inspired many others across the country to plant trees and make Pakistan generally a more eco-friendly country.
The program addresses Pakistan’s history of deforestation as the country confronts the realities of climate change in the form of hotter temperatures, melting Himalayan glaciers and intensifying monsoon rains.
Amir Naushad Khan from Lower Dir in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is one of those social workers who got inspired by the idea and initiative of the Prime Minister for such plantations across the country.
According to Amir Naushad Khan, by now he has planted millions of plants across his district.
Talking to The Friday Times – Naya Daur, Khan says that the plantation of a sapling was an easy task, but taking care of it has always been a tough job because there are hundreds of “enemies of plants” in society, which prevent them from taking the shape of a full tree. “In my village, there was a forest with over six million trees occupied by a few families who wanted to build homes on the land of the forest by cutting all the trees standing there.” Amir recalled that he along with the elders of his village bought land for all the families in order to stop the cutting of trees in the forest.
“I myself took the responsibility of taking care of those six million trees, as I did not want to lose this huge forest which was playing a very important role in making my village eco-friendly”, says Khan.
He says that besides plantations in his own district, he has planted thousands of trees in the other districts as well, and a majority of them are now growing and taking the shape of full trees. Khan adds that he has planted them in many government buildings too – including schools and hospitals in many districts of KP.
About the budget used in buying plants, he says: “ No one is paying me for buying plants, as I am a settled businessman and I give a dedicated amount of my profit to buying and planting saplings.”
Musa Kamal, a journalist from the area, tells The Friday Times – Naya Daur that due to the deforestation and illegal logging, almost 80 percent of forests have vanished in Lower Dir
Meanwhile, commenting on the issue Fayaz Mashwani, a climate journalist hailing from Lower Dir, says that Pakistan is one of the signatory countries of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to overcome and achieve 17 major targets by 2030. Mashwani notes that out of these goals, numbers 6 and 13 call for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact, and ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation. In his view, Pakistan is among the few most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate change. “Poor management, lack of coordination and less awareness among the masses regarding the global warming and plantation are a few of the main reasons for Pakistan’s deteriorating climate situation.”
While applauding the struggle of Amir Naushad Khan, he says that such activists must be admired and their efforts should be highlighted because such work can change the fate of a country and the lives of the masses through plantations.
It must be noted that Pakistan has persistently been reckoned among the top 10 most affected countries due to climate change, where its recent ranking descended from number 5.
A recent Germanwatch report on the Long-term Global Climate Risk Index 2020 rated Pakistan as the 8th most affected country from the adverse impacts of climate change. The data pertained to a period from 2000 to 2019 and indicates that the country faces 0.3% life losses per 100,000 inhabitants and $ 3.8 billion in economic losses due to the recurrent phenomenon of floods and climate-change-induced catastrophes.
Fires have been reported on the mountain forests of Karamar, Swabi Katlang, Mardan, Talash Amlok Darra in Lower Dir, Jabbar, Upper Dir, Takhtbahi, Mardan and Kalash Valley in Chitral – all resulting in thousands of trees being gutted
Musa Kamal, a journalist from the area, tells The Friday Times – Naya Daur that due to the deforestation and illegal logging, almost 80 percent of forests have vanished in Lower Dir, KP. “The forestry department and timber mafia were involved in cutting of trees and smuggling to the other parts of the countries,” says Kamal. He adds that that the KP government, “despite its tall claims, has failed to implement its Climate Change Policy 2016.”
Imran Ali, an environmental rights activist, says that wild fires have ravaged a large portion of forests across the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province without inviting much attention from the Forest Department and government, who often claim having planted new trees but there is no mechanism in place to protect the existing forests. Ali adds that fires have been reported on the mountain forests of Karamar, Swabi Katlang, Mardan, Talash Amlok Darra in Lower Dir, Jabbar, Upper Dir, Takhtbahi, Mardan and Kalash Valley in Chitral – all resulting in thousands of trees being gutted.
“The first fire was reported in Kalash Valley of Chitral district, in which large oak trees were gutted within no time,” he says. Local volunteers were sent to the area to bring the fire under control, but by then, decades-old large trees had been burnt to the ground.
In his message to the common people Amir Naushad Khan says that planting a plant is a very easy task and everyone in society should at least plant a single plant in their life, which will help to make Pakistan an eco-friendly county on the map of the world.