Tuesday January 18, 2022

Rawalpindi’s tree cover takes a hit

December 05, 2021

Caring for Rawalpindi’s trees has become essential. The trees that survived continue to face existential threats in the shape of weather activities, felling, and improper maintenance. Not only is this a cause for concern in terms of the environmental impact on the city but also a threat to the safety of citizens.

The gaps in the care and maintenance of Rawalpindi trees are widening day by day. I saw some large broken branches dangling in midair, which later entangled in the broadband cables crossing one of the Airport Housing Society streets. Residents are very concerned about the safety of the commuters who continue to drive below the trees.

“A tree in our neighborhood broke following the wind and rain fury in the wee hours of a rainy season day. The uprooted tree that lacked maintenance blocked the entire street. The branches of the tree that remained unpruned over a long time were unable to bear the weight when battered by a spell of rain. At one stage, the entire set of broken branches supporting each other collapsed. A commuter on a bike miraculously escaped a fatal accident by a fraction of a second,” recounts Azhar Sajjad from Judicial Colony.

“A repeat of this incident took place a month later as another huge branch of a tree broke and fell right in the middle of the road. After lodging complaints and conveying the same to the higher officials, we managed to get it cleared,” adds Azhar Sajjad.

“The prevalent tradition in the city to just plant a tree and then forget about aftercare is the real cause of the fast disappearance of tree cover in the Rawalpindi city. The horticulture department is doing a good job in terms of planting trees but remains totally ignorant about the aftercare and proper management of planted trees,” says Ahsen Ali from Gulzar-e-Quaid.

“A few years ago, I observed a beautiful series of trees along both sides of the old airport road presenting a panoramic view of the flowing bunches of various colors of flowers from well-pruned and managed trees. Unfortunately, there is none visible now,” laments Syed Irfan Jafery from Shah Khalid Colony.

“Even pruning or branch cutting of trees is done with a chopper in an unprofessional way. It is time to make concerted efforts by the city authorities to lessen the woes of the leftover trees in the city,” says Hussain Shirazi.

Azra Abbas says, “The city authorities handling parks do not have the necessary kit to manage trees in the city landscape. Several trees across the city remain unpruned so far. Pruning should take place before the monsoon, just like de-silting of the stormwater drains. It is time all wild or planted trees are treated in a friendly manner so as to make them invaluable for mankind.”