Billion Tree Tsunami Transforms Pakistan’s Arid Region Into Green Gold

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In a bid to fight against the drastic effects of deforestation and global warming, authorities in Pakistan’s Heroshah region have planted over 300 million trees of 42 species across the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the recent years. Thanks to their efforts and that of more than 16, 000 labourers, what was once a deserted dry land had turned into a lush green forest as far as the horizon.

In the year 2015 and 2016, labourers had planted more than 900,000 fast-growing eucalyptus trees in Heroshah region at regular and geometric intervals to fight deforestation and this was just a part of their mammoth task which has been ongoing for years across the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province transforming it into a green land from a burnt and dry land.

The region’s forest manager Perviaz Manan said that it now looks like they are all having green gold from the barren lands which were there earlier. He held some photos which documented the region’s transformation from being barren lands with only sparse blades of tall grass that interrupted the monotonous landscape of the region into a lush green forest across the horizon.

Manan, who oversaw the plantations and actively participated in the task along with locals, said that the new vegetation will help in fighting erosion, increase the chances of precipitation and decrease the chances of floods to the region while also reinvigorating the scenic beauty of the area.

Most of the high valleys further north were denuded by Pakistan’s Taliban during their reign from 2006 to 2009. Now, the residents and forest workers say that the hills have become more useful and are covered in so many pine saplings that one cannot walk without stepping on a seedling.

The plantations are part of the Billion Tree Tsunami programme by the provincial government which has planned the plantation of 300 million trees of 42 different species across the region. Another 150 million saplings were further given to the landowners for plantation. The strict measures by the government ensured regrowth of more than 730 million trees taking the total number of trees to 1.2 billion.

Pakistan branch manager of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Kamran Hussain said that the figures, based on an independent audit, are slightly above the target of 1 billion trees. “We are 100% confident that the figure about the billion trees is correct,” he said, highlighting the transparency of the process. “Everything is online. Everyone has access to this information.”

Only 5.2% of Pakistan’s land is covered by forests against the United Nation’s recommendation of 12%. And, in early 2017, the government announced its Green Pakistan Project which aimed at planting around 100 million trees in five years.