Pakistan Has Just Planted Over A Billion Trees
Pakistan hit its billion tree goal in August 2017 – months ahead of schedule. Now, the hills of the country’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are alive with newly planted saplings.
The massive reforestation project – named the Billion Tree Tsunami – added 350,000 hectares of trees both by planting and natural regeneration, in an effort to restore the province’s depleted forests and fight the effects of climate change. Pakistan has one of the lowest levels of forest cover in the region and well below the 12% recommended by the UN. It is also among the six countries that will be most affected by global warming.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had lost large areas of forest to felling, which increased the likelihood of flooding and landslides.
Cricket-star turned politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party governs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, spearheaded the Billion Tree Tsunami, which started in 2014 and cost $169 million.
As well as benefiting the environment, the project has established a network of private tree nurseries, which have boosted local incomes and generated green jobs, including for unemployed young people and women in the province.
Experts at World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan, which monitored and conducted an independent audit of the reforestation drive, say the project has been an environmental, economic and social success, VOA news reported.
Its popularity has prompted Pakistan’s federal government to launch its own Green Pakistan program, which aims to plant 100 million trees in five years across the country.