Islamabad : After the induction of a successive third government that completed full 5-year term, a process of shuffling, merger, exclusion and creation of divisions, ministers and sections has started.
And that is necessary because every political party has its own agenda, priorities, ambitions and obsessions. And this is especially true for a regime which claims to bring a change.
I may have different likings as well as disliking for different regimes in the history of Pakistan but being a person who takes himself to be a crusader for environment, ecology and horticulture beyond obsession to the extent of religious zeal, growing more and more trees always had been my dream from childhood.
I liked Imran Khan’s vision of planting 10 billion trees in his 5-year tenure. Though Pakistan needs more but to start with, let’s welcome it as a first step.
But as the saying goes, any initiative must see its logical end. Planting a sapling is just the first step. Let’s forget what trees to be planted where, and focus on sustaining the step. It involves watering at proper intervals, protecting some varieties from frost, too much water or too much heat and providing fertilisers at regular intervals again depending upon the species. An uphill task but must be assured.
My six-year additional stint at Quaid-i-Azam University as head of its Horticulture Cell, I noticed another important hazard. After lack of water, it was the attack of cattle on the Campus where trees, plants, bushes and flowers were their primary target. You agree or not, I include certain animals which are a special distinction for the Capital city of this Islamic Republic. These are wild boars, jackals, foxes, porcupines, hedgehogs, mongooses and stray dogs though the last one does not pose direct threat to vegetation.
For follow up, in a long-term planning, these threats from fauna must be kept in mind though the level may be different for different types of flora.
Growing indigenous plants is a preferable option but if these meet citizen’s nutritional requirements, it will be like icing on the cake. Many lists containing species like olive and ‘Kachnar’ are already in circulation but there are many like ‘Amla’, ‘Lasoorha’, ‘Amaltas’, ‘Jamun’, guava, loquats and ‘Reetha’ etc that are missing from the lists we find here and there in the wake of governments Federal Tsunami of plantation declaration. These are natural, wild as well as have fruit value. We find so much ‘Garunda’ in Potohar region but many may not know that ‘Falsa’, sold in scorching summer, both belong to the same genre, hence can easily be grown here.
In the end, I cannot keep my cat remain inside the bag. We should add some fruits from the non-indigenous varieties which can help us meet the food crisis. Moringa is already in but avocado and nectarine has to wait to catch the attention of some decision-maker. You can grow Anwar Ratol, ‘Chaunsa’, ‘Sindhrhi’ and ‘Dusehri’ mangoes right in Islamabad. Same is the case with rosary fruits like plum, apricot, walnut, apple, pear and almond. They give fragrance and flowery look in February/March and fruits in the summer.
And different types of barriers like ‘seu-bair’, normal’ bair’ and ‘jharh bair are no exceptions. But beware of the pricking thrones.
So the whiz-kids of Ministry of Climate Change, your task is not to bring change but to stop the change which was feared to and now actually looming large on the world due to large scale natural and man-made deforestation. Your task is not to implant 10 million or 1 trillion trees.
Your target should be to have 25 per cent forest cover in Pakistan which is the minimum level as per United Nations standards. We must keep in mind that pollutants live across the Mediterranean and Atlantic (also Pacific if we go from east) but we are among the top 10 countries that are facing the results of their actions and/or inactions.