Sindh Gov’t Pursues Urban Forests With Transparency

Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said the government is pursuing its project of urban forests with utmost transparency and monitoring

Sindh Information and Forests Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said the government is pursuing its project of urban forests with utmost transparency and monitoring so as to yield maximum results to improve the environment of cities in the province.

“The elements of transparency and monitoring should be there so that plantation done under the urban forests projects is visible to everyone,” he said while addressing as chief guest at the 17th Annual Environment Conference and Environment Excellence Awards-2020 at a hotel on Friday night.

The National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) organised the event. He said that if the element of monitoring was missing then there was the risk that new trees were not planted in an adequate number as part of the urban forests project, as wild plants already present at the selected site were also counted to amplify the impact of the forestry drive.

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He said the project of urban forests were being pursued to implement the visions of “Sarsabz Sindh” and “Clean and Green Pakistan” of the government.

He informed the audience that the Sindh government’s drive to grow mangrove forests had been recognised at the 2019 United Nations’ Climate Change Conference 2019 where Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. He said that this international recognition of the forestry drive of the government was a big achievement, and the campaign to increase green cover in the province would continue in accordance with the global standards.

Forests and Wildlife Secretary Abdul Rahim Soomro said tree plantation carried out along the Lyari Expressway in Karachi from the Mauripur Bridge was the first successful scheme of urban forest in the province that was now visible to everyone. He said urban forest schemes were also pursued at the University of Karachi, Shah Faisal Colony, Thaddo Dam in Gadap, and University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

He said the encroachment of the forest land was a major issue pertaining to his department, as 139,000 acres of such forest area had been retrieved in the province from the encroachers. He said another 12,000 acres of forest land in the province had been secured after cancelling its illegal allotment. He said forests had been regenerated on 40,000 acres of Sindh. He said tree plantation had been carried out along 350 kilometres of different roads and highways in the province.

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Soomro said services of up to 25 female forest officers of the Forests Department had been utilised for a social mobilization campaign, and they had been going to different schools to give lectures to students on the importance of greenery and tree plantation.

Vice-Chancellor NED University of Engineering & Technology Prof Dr SH Lodi said the NED University as part of centennial celebrations of its foundation had been pursuing the agenda of making its campus carbon-neutral by maximizing the tree plantation and minimizing the use of motor vehicles. He said Fridays at the campus of NED University would be observed as vehicle-free days when the faculty-members, staff, and students would use only bicycles.

He urged the audience to visit the university on Fridays after the resumption of the academic activities to witness the use of bicycles on the campus.

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Former Sindh Environment secretary Shamsul Haq Memon said plastic pollution had emerged as the biggest threat to marine life and environment, and emergency should be imposed to fight this environmental menace.

Noted industrialist Mian Zahid Hussain said merely 4.5 per cent of the forest cover in Pakistan was way too less as per the international standards as collective efforts should be made to increase greenery in urban areas.

NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said his non-governmental organisations with the support of the government, civic agencies, municipal bodies, community organisations, corporate, and industrial sectors had been pursuing a tree plantation drive since 2014 under which 360,000 trees had been planted in different cities, especially in Karachi.

He said the tree plantation campaign of NFEH would continue with the support of all stakeholders.

NFEH Secretary General Ruqiya Naeem also spoke to pay tribute to the late environmentalist Dr Sami uz Zaman Siddiqui, who recently passed away, to recognize his services for environment in Pakistan.

The article is originally published at The News

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