World Environment Day: Pakistan and its “Tsunami of the Trees” project in the spotlight

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The 2021 edition of World Environment Day organized by the UN will be held today (5 June). This year, Pakistan is in the spotlight. In 2019, the South Asian country launched one of the largest reforestation projects in the world.

Ten billion trees planted by 2023. This is the ambitious project of the “Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Program”, launched in 2019 by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. The first phase aims to plant 3.25 billion trees in the country, at an estimated cost of around Rs105bil (RM2.8bil). The program also aims to preserve mangroves (an ecosystem of trees along the coast), reforest cities and create more than 5,500 “green” jobs.

This reforestation project is part of an approach similar to the “Billion Tree Tsunami” launched in 2014 by the previous Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, which aimed to plant a billion trees across the country.

Meanwhile, another WWF Pakistan-supported project launched in 2018 planted nearly 1.6 million trees, the country’s native species, in various cities in Pakistan, as well as around one billion native plants.

A country at high risk of deforestation

According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, Pakistan ranks eighth among the countries most affected by climate change between 1999 and 2019, with economic losses equivalent to $ 3.772 billion (RM 15.55 billion).

Extreme heatwaves, high humidity, floods … Pakistan is directly affected by the melting of the Himalayan glaciers, responsible for serious water shortages in a large part of the country, as well as the gradual disappearance of riparian forests.

In fact, its annual rate of deforestation is considered to be one of the highest in the world. Between 2000 and 2010, the country lost an average of 43,000 ha of forest per year, or about half the area of ​​its capital Islamabad.

Its forest currently covers about 4.478 million hectares (5.1%), according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This is a very low share considering that the global forest cover is 4.06 billion hectares (about 31% of the total land area).

Today’s World Environment Day will also mark the opening of the United Nations Decade for Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. The year 2030 as the deadline was not chosen at random: it corresponds to the deadline set by scientists to avoid the amplification of the effects of climate change.

“2020 has been a year of calculation, faced with multiple crises, including a global pandemic and the persistent crises of climate, nature and pollution. In 2021, we must take deliberate steps to move from crisis to healing: and in doing so, we must recognize that restoring nature is imperative for the survival of our planet and the human race, ”said Inger Andersen , Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program. – AFP Relaxnews

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