Billion Tree Project has also restored 350,000 hectares of forests
Pakistan’s north-western province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has successfully planted 1 billion trees and in fact surpassed the estimated target of Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project.
Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party launched the green mission initiative in June 2015 to plant billion new trees in the area and fight deforestation with reforestation.
Pakistan’s Billion Tree Tsunami campaign has restored 350,000 hectares of forests and degraded land, exceeding the target of 348,000 hectares set by Bonn Challenge – a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020 and 350 million hectares by 2030. Pakistan completed teh challenge ahead of the deadline set for December 2017.
“This marks the first Bonn Challenge pledge to reach its restoration goal” International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) noted in its statement.
The organization congratulated the Pakistani province on reaching the “momentous milestone”.
“The Billion Tree Tsunami initiative is a true conservation success story, one that further demonstrates Pakistan’s leadership role in the international restoration effort and continued commitment to the Bonn Challenge” said Inger Anderson, director general of IUCN.
Pakistan is among the top 10 countries mostly likely to be affected by global warming and has one of the highest deforestation rates in Asia. Billion Tree Tsunami aims to slow down the effects of global warming in the country.
Imran Khan termed the green project significant for Pakistan. “If you plant trees, we have discovered, by the river banks it sustains the rivers. But most importantly, the glaciers that are melting in the mountains, and one of the biggest reasons is because there has been a massive deforestation. So, this billion tree is very significant for our future” he said, VOA reported.
According to provincial officials, the campaign has achieved its restoration target through a combination of protected natural regeneration, 60 percent, and planned afforestation, 40 percent.
Many small-scale nurseries, producing up to 25,000 saplings each, have been set up with cash advances and a guaranteed purchase agreement from the provincial government.
PTI’s Chief Imran Khan says the provincial government has enforced a complete ban on the cutting and felling of trees in reserved forests across KPK.
The KPK government has invested $123 million to help establish 13,000 private tree nurseries in almost every district of the province, producing hundreds of thousands of saplings of local and imported tree varieties, including pines, walnuts and eucalyptus, officials say.
Experts at World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan, which is monitoring and auditing the tree-planting effort in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, say the project has been an environmental, economic and social success, with one of the highest survival rates of trees in the world, ranging from 70 to 90 per cent.