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Ecosystem restoration fund on anvils to overcome droughts in Pakistan

By Our Correspondent
June 18, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The government is establishing an ecosystem restoration fund to support activities related to curbing desertification, land degradation and droughts as the flagship initiative has hit the ground running, a PM aide said on Thursday.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Amin Aslam said the government is implementing a climate smart agriculture initiative with support from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to enhance sustainability of agriculture sector in drought-hit areas.

“Pakistan is grappled with growing threat of expanding desertification for the last many years, which has exacerbated the country’s food insecurity, poverty, hunger levels and biodiversity loss,” he said in a statement on occasion of the UN’s world day to combat desertification and drought.

Aslam said the country is predominantly dry with about 80 percent of areas falling in semi-arid and arid regions. About 68 percent of the geographical areas lie under annual rainfall of average 250mm whereas about 24 percent of the geographical areas lie under annual rainfall measuring between 250- 500mm.

“Aridity-hit areas in southern parts of the country are in grip of extreme poverty, which presumably is the result of resource constraints and inadequate opportunities for environmentally-resilient sustaining life- livelihoods such as agriculture. About 58 percent of the country’s population lives in dryland areas suffering from inadequate or declining rains,” he said. “As we enter the UN decade of ecosystem restoration, we have a real chance to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. If countries can restore the nearly 800 million hectares of degraded land they have pledged to restore by 2030, we can safeguard humanity and our planet from the looming danger.” In 4 to 5 years, the government planted trees on 600,000 hectares in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A nationwide initiative was launched to plant/regenerate 3.29 billion plants over an area of one million hectares.

“The target of one billion tree plantation and natural regeneration of forests in various parts of the country has already been achieved, which led to creation of 100,000 green jobs,” the PM’s aide said. The day is being celebrated this year under the theme of “Restoration. Land. Recovery: We build back better with healthy land”, with heightened global focus on call for turning degraded land into healthy land for sustainability of humanity, planet earth and its resources.

Aslam said the green initiatives of the country aims to support in achieving the voluntary land degradation neutrality targets by 2030 and also implementation of national action plan to combat desertification.

“Restoring lands degraded due to outpouring desertification and seething droughts not only leads to economic resilience but also helps create jobs, raise incomes, increase food security and supports biodiversity to recover,” he said. “Curbing desertification is vital to slowing climate change as it locks away the planet-warming carbon emissions.” According to UN-supported studies, nearly three-quarters of the earth’s ice-free land has undergone changes due to unsustainable human activities to meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials for industries, highways and homes.

“Averting, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both pressing need of the time and unprecedented for a fast recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and for ensuring the sustainable survival of humanity, the planet and the resources it provides,” said Aslam. “Restoring damaged ecosystems helps boost climate resilience of the systems and strengthens nature’s defences against disasters and extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts, floods, soil erosions and dust storms.”

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