COMMEMORATED every year on June 5, since 1972, the World Environment Day is a principal vehicle through which the awareness of the environment is stimulated across the world.
It was started by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 and is hosted every year by different countries with a different theme. It was the first occasion on which the political, social and economic problems of the global environment were discussed at an intergovernmental forum with a view to actually taking corrective action.
The World Environment Day is an opportunity for us all to be involved in something which is critical for our shared future and work in a coordinated manner to empower us all to play an active role in protecting our environment.
The theme of the World Environment Day 2011, in support of the UN International Year of Forests (IYF), is “Forests: Nature at Your Service” a theme that encompasses the issues of deforestation and need to protect green spaces. It also underscores the variety of life-sustaining services that forests provide and calls for action to protect these resources and move towards a green economy.
The environment day is observed every year to highlight troubles and issues pertaining the environment, and how issues like poverty, economy and health are essentially linked to environmental degradation. This year’s theme, forests, harbours the world’s most precious natural resources and communities. These resources are utilised in food, agriculture, medicine, clothing and much more, hence making them a critically important link in the environmental chain.
Pakistan has only 2.5 percent of forest cover with an alarming rate of deforestation. The annual rate of deforestation in Pakistan is -2.1 percent, no Asian country has a forest degradation rate higher than this.
The largest conversions of forest land have taken place in Punjab and Sindh, corresponding to 99,711 acres and 27,874 acres respectively and this is distressing as the government continues with deforestation.
Forests are important in the fight against greenhouse gasses which are impacting climate change. They absorb water and ensure that it is filtered, sustained, and gradually available for consumption. Their degradation does not only impact forest cover ratio of a country, it also leads to real life problems such as soil erosion, damaged watershed areas, leading to pollution in water bodies and endangering water availability in the long term.
A senior lawyer and president of ECO Green Society, Akhtar H Awan, said that he believed that environmental development was one of the key pillars that would achieve sustainability for future generations. He said that the need of the hour was to formulate policies and strategies aiming at sustainable forestry development by adopting holistic and integrated approach to manage forests’ resources.
Forests cover one third of the earth’s land mass, performing vital functions and services around the world which make our planet alive with possibilities. In fact, 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods.
Pakistan being in a region of mountains and glaciatic landscape is more susceptible to climatic changes, obvious examples regarding the fact are the intermittent flash floods and harsh weather conditions, to which forests are the keys to cope with these issues.
In Pakistan, judicial activism is very much evident that we are keen to protect trees, vegetation and forests. The Supreme Court of Pakistan took a serious view against environmental degradation because of deforestation and loss of vegetation.
The apex court in its suo moto cases delivered judgments which had far reaching effects in the protection and conservation of forest and trees.
A cleaning activity and awareness walk organized by Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) was held at Gulshan-e-Ravi drain on the World Environment Day. LWMC staff, students from various institutes, and LWMC officials and sanitary workers participated in the activity.
After cleaning up the drain, the participants arranged an awareness walk and distributed pamphlets for mass awareness about managing solid waste.