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December 8, 2018

Another billion trees to be planted in KP

National

December 8, 2018

PESHAWAR: Claiming to have achieved the target of billion tree afforestation project, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Environment Department is all set to launch a new campaign as the federal government announced 10 billion tree tsunami in which one billion more trees would be planted and regenerated in the province and its newly merged tribal districts.

Homework for the new project has already been completed and it would be formally kicked off from the next month, a senior official in the forest department told The News. The new project would cost Rs27 billion approximately for which the funds have been approved.

The drive would be started simultaneously in all the districts of the province including the newly merged tribal districts. The same mechanism like the previous one would be adopted for making the drive a success and equal attention would be focused on planting more and more trees besides ensuring natural re-generation.

However, this year the concept of nurseries has been revisited and the quota for private entities has been abolished. Only women would be given 10 percent quota for developing saplings and the remaining would be done by the department, the official said. “The quota for women has been retained for two obvious reasons. First, they were found extremely punctual and dedicated to their job and they did it tremendously well. Second, as the government believes in women empowerment and the allocation of developing nurseries and plants, they would get an easy and profitable job at their doorsteps,” he said.

About the previous project, the official said that they managed to plant and ensure re-generation of 1.2 billion trees during the drive, which was a massive success.

He said that 40 percent trees of the total plantation drive were actually planted, while the remaining 60 percent were ensured to get regenerated in a natural manner. The project was completed at a cost of Rs15.2 billion. For the re-generation, the department introduced the idea of ‘closures’, which proved a great success, another senior officer of the department said.

He added that at least 200 ‘closures’ were established across the province during the drive. Elaborating ‘closures’, he said that the department declares a certain area as ‘closure’ with the support and consultation of the community living in that particular locality.

“Tree-cutting, hunting and other such activities are completely banned in the area and a ‘Nigahban’ (guard) from within the community is hired to stop violations. Monthly salary of at least Rs15,000 is provided to the ‘Nigahban’,” he said. “Through this way not only cutting of the existing trees in these areas has been controlled, but more new trees and herbs have been generated there. Besides, the ecosystem has been restored there,” he said.

The official also brushed aside the perception that eucalypts - a fast growing tree - was consuming much water and has affected the water-table in some areas. He said that this perception was totally wrong.

He added that 21 percent of the tree planted during the previous drive was eucalypts and they would continue to grow this plant in view of its increasing demand.

The department has also served legal notice on a leading international broadcasting corporation for publishing an article in which it had been claimed that due to the plantation of eucalypts a river ‘Ghambela’ in Lakki Marwat district dried up. “This is ridiculous! How can trees get so much water from a flowing river that the whole river becomes dry. Have water-pumps or pipelines been fitted in these trees to consume so much water,” the official remarked.

He said that eucalypts was environment-friendly and it did not absorb more water than other trees. “Yes, this specie has a unique quality of storing water for later use,” he said. “This tree is useful for water-logged land. The farmers are more interested in planting it because of its fast growth and easy sale,” he added.

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