A billion is a big number. 10 billion is astounding. Yet that is the number of trees which are being planted over a 5 year period in Pakistan. It's the largest tree planting project I've heard of which is being progressed purely to support our world's climate change goals whilst also tackling poverty. Yet, whenever I chat to people about it, it's not an initiative they've heard of. This article is therefore my way of filling you in on the highlights of the project.
- 10,000,000,000 trees. That's a thousand millions, repeated ten times. -
Prime Minister, Imran Khan, inaugurated the programme in September 2018 during the "Plant for Pakistan Event". It aims to satisfy the United Nations SDG 15 which tasks every country with tackling deforestation and reducing carbon emissions.
Leading the Way
- The project has been recognised as the 4th biggest tree initiative by the Plant for Planet Foundation
- It is the biggest forestry initiative in Pakistan's history
- Recognised as imperative by the World Economic Forum
- Recognised and shared at COP 25
Photo Credit: 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, MENA FN
(I'd like to see more girls getting involved please Team PTI)
I've been impressed by Prime Minister Khan's engagement of volunteers to support in the delivery of this work. He has set up a national network of "Tigers"made up of 350,000 young people. 150,000 of his Tigers planted 2 million saplings in just one day during August 2020 which has become known as Tiger Force Day. Imagine the global media coverage this story would have gained had it been carried out in the Global North as opposed to an impoverished country in the Global South.
The main objective of the project is to facilitate transition towards an environmentally resilient Pakistan through ecologically targeted initiatives covering afforestation and biodiversity conservation.
The project has already planted more than 500 million saplings across the country, with the first billion target achieved by June this year. The overall 10 billion tree target will be achieved through a phased 5 years approach at a cost of about 800 million USD.
The campaign will increase exponentially in speed and scale in the coming months because the government has generated adequate nursery stock over the last two years. The biggest obstacle in this process is the generation of nurseries. When the project started, there was a nursery stock of about 30 million all over Pakistan. Today, the nursery stock is 300 million.
- That's 500,000,000 trees planted in less than 5 months. -
Photo Credit: 10 Billion Tree Tsunami
Forest Cover Enhancement
The project will primarily focus on enhancement of forest cover by adding 3.3 billion indigenous plants through afforestation, reforestation and regeneration over the next 4 years to curb the impacts of climate change.
Priority areas for planting are as follows:
- Conservation and enhancement of natural forests through assisted natural regeneration;
- Road and canal side plantation;
- Rehabilitation and re-stocking of historical plantations;
- Restoration and improvement of scrub forests; e. Increase in existing cover of mangrove forests;
- Watershed and soil conservation in hilly and river catchment areas
- Rehabilitation of guzara and protected forests Protection and augmentation of dry temperate forests
- The challenges to wildlife protection and preservation will be overcome through improvement and effective implementation of wildlife legislations and institutional strengthening as follows:
- Enhanced management of Protected Areas (Biosphere Reserve/ National Parks) with a special focus on eco-tourism
- Revival of Critically Endangered Habitats
- Improvements of wildlife related legislation and its implementation
- Curbing of illegal wildlife trafficking through establishment of control desks in international/national airports
- Rehabilitation/ Rescue Centres for Confiscated Wildlife in each province/ territory
- Zero plastic in protected areas
- Liaison between Wildlife Departments and Universities
- Rehabilitation of forest covers in Man and the Biosphere (MAB) reserves and intervention for declaration of more MAB reserves, which are already in the pipeline.
The project is being driven from the provincial government of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa and covers the whole province of KPK. It is the work of Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaaf political party. Prior to the 10 billion tree project launch, the country had successfully completed a 1 billion tree planting project over 4 years from 2014-2017 and is therefore building on sound conservation experience.
Pakistan’s total forest cover is currently estimated to be less than 3%, one of the lowest levels in the region and well below the 12% recommended by the United Nations. As a responsible human being I'm so very grateful to everyone who is supporting this project.
Little note to Prime Minister Imran Khan and PTI: I live in the UK and am ready and willing to help this and other projects for the development of Pakistan in any way I can. My skills are in marketing, public relations and sustainability.