Country may face adverse environmental impact of precipitous deforestation
It is a gorgeous feeling to know that Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr Imran Khan, has launched a campaign of ten-billion ‘tree tsunami’ in Pakistan as a response to the challenge of global warming. Prior to it, way back in 2014, the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa led by the PTI initiated ‘billion tree tsunami’ to tackle the adverse environmental impact. These initiatives are gracious endeavors by any government in the history of Pakistan.
‘Plant for Pakistan’, an afforestation drive, is a befitting reply to the current deforestation in Pakistan. In case the ongoing deforestation does not stall in Pakistan, the country may encounter irreparable loss in the decades to come. It is presumed that the annual deforestation rate at 0.5% per year in Pakistan is the highest in Asia, which is an alarming sign. Ideally, forests should cover at least 25% of the total area of a country whereas barely 3% of Pakistan’s land is covered with forests contrary to 33% at the time of the establishment of Pakistan. Forests currently cover about 30% of the world’s landmass across the globe, however, the situation in Pakistan is contrary. There is precipitous deforestation in Pakistan particularly over the period of last three decades which is detrimental for our ecosystem. This unabated deforestation is attributed to the climatic havoc in Pakistan recently experienced by the populace.
It is believed that approximately 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation which is leading to a kind of Armageddon and the world is at risk currently. We must be cognizant of the reality that Pakistan is seventh on the list of the countries to have adverse impact of global warming. So we cannot afford to be complacent in this regard. It would be smashing coup of the incumbent government in case the drive to plant 10 billion trees in five years materializes to make the country green. Hats off to the initiators of this cause which would indeed benefit our descendants and the government would get acclamation, and accolades and adulation not only from within the country but also from across the world since it is to save the entire world. Horticulturists argue that the trees planted today will bear fruit after two to three decades so it is high time to start planting today since it would contribute enormously to the reduction of carbon emissions, which is the primary concern at this juncture globally.
Precipitous global deforestation over the period of erstwhile four decades in particular has wrecked a deluge of countries in one way or other and Pakistan is no exception. Pakistan being primarily an agrarian economy has to tackle the situation sooner rather than later to cope with the unprecedented havoc in the not-too-distant future. Pakistan’s financial hub, Karachi used to be semi-arid region, which now has turned into an arid region to the detriment of the economic prosperity. Prudent steps for the ecosystem are to be taken forthwith. Karachi is a metropolis sans trees. Soaring temperatures in the financial hub of Pakistan have left impact on the economic contribution of the city to the country. Trees either have been chopped in the name of development in Karachi or may be in connivance with the authorities for the sprawling urbanization. Karachi has become a concrete canyon instead of once green and prosperous Karachi. Successive governments have fallen flat regarding bringing environmental change which leads to better economic activities eventually. Massive plantation drive is the need of the hour in the mega city which contributes over 60% in the revenue and is the aorta of the economy of Pakistan.
Chopping trees in the name of building roads, industrialization, urbanization, housing societies, construction of hydroelectric dams, mining to achieve oil or to get wood for commercial purposes does not augur well. Across the world, people are crying against the devastation of the rainforests, which is the primary cause of global warming. Pakistan is going through the same global havoc. Over half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared for various reasons bringing devastation and Pakistan is experiencing almost the same particularly in the wake of the clout of the so-called timber mafia.
The incumbent government has focused on tourism to underpin economic revival of the debt-laden Pakistan, which must be eulogized, however, it is of core significance to ensure the scenic beauty of Pakistan is highlighted to the hilt so that the world may know what Pakistan could offer.
Ecotourism is catching up in the entire world and Pakistan must capitalize on it. Pakistan still has abundant scenic natural areas in the northern part which may be marketed to bring the ecotourism of the country to the fore.