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Foresting instead of gardening - social trend

On #WorldEnvironmentDay explore inspirational stories of people who grew urban forests

  • Forest planted by Shahzad Qureishi in KarachiImage Credit: Shahzad Qureishi/Facebook
  • Shehzad QureishiImage Credit: Shehzad Qureishi/Facebook
  • Shubhendu Sharma mentioned the forest by Qureishi during a TED talkImage Credit: TED/Official website
Gulf News


This man is growing a forest in the middle of Karachi.

With a massive water crisis at hand, temperatures reaching record highs and a deadly heatwave soaring across the country, Pakistan needs every bit of greenery it can grow.

A man in Karachi - Pakistan’s most urbanised and populous city, has taken it upon himself to help the situation after witnessing the city’s 2015 heatwave.

Shahzad Quraishi, has planted an urban forest in the middle of Karachi’s Clifton area that was ignited by his desire of “not seeing the ugly construction structures” or “tall buildings.”

His story gained popularity through social media. In a video posted on Facebook by media company Cutacut, Quraishi said: “We needed this 25 years ago, we are very late. That’s because when a generation plants greenery, the next generation benefits from it.”

Adopting Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki’s agricultural methods, Quraishi doesn’t use any pesticides or chemicals. He said: “We let Nature fight its own wars.”

Quraishi has aspirational plans ahead. He said: “Now that I’ve found a good way… I will cover the whole of Karachi with greenery. I just need five years.”

The forester uses his website and Facebook page with currently 5,345 members to spread awareness and give daily updates.

His efforts have been successful and the forest is only growing. In a June 4 post he said: “Water Melons and Honey dews are the surprises you get when the soil is rich and conditions are good. This is in our forest patch planted 3 month ago, automatically sprouted because of some seeds in our mulch…”

He has received immense praise online. Facebook user Anis Chaandio said: “Dude so much love and respect for starting this initiative. Its people like you bro who make the difference. Respect.”

The initiative is fuelling important discussions and people are even sharing their advice for a greener future.

Facebook user Nabeel Arif said: “I intend to plant 10 trees in the children’s park at DHA Lahore. Please suggest some names of trees which grow fast.”

Whereas, Muhammad Azeem Ijaz said: “Soon the season of fruits like mango, jamun, jack fruit, etc will start. My request to all of you is to kindly not throw the seeds, wash and pack them keep it in your car. Whenever you go out and find barren land while travelling, on a highway throw these seeds. They will germinate easily the coming monsoon. If with this act we can contribute even a single tree each to our country, our mission is successful. It would be wonderful if all of us also join this cause and contribute back to our next generations.”

However, Quraishi is not the first person to dream of an urban jungle. He was inspired by a story coming from across the border, particularly a Ted-talk by an Indian eco-entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma, according to Pakistani newspaper, The Express Tribune.

Sharma quit his job as an industrial engineer to pursue his environmental aspirations. He owns Afforestt, a company that helps provide “natural, wild, maintenance free and native forests” to urban areas.

Since Sharma’s popularity, social media users have posted asking for him to transform their respective cities, one at a time.

Facebook user Dolly Alex hopes that her city would be restored to what it once was. She posted: “Subhendu we need your help in our city PUNE. The green cover that was once a part of this city is nearly vanished. Our younger generation needs to be made aware of the disastrous consequences of deforestation.”

And the trend is travelling.

Facebook user Allyson Jardine gave suggestions for initiatives around her country - the United States. She said: “This would be a good idea in American cities with large block areas that have been abandoned. Turning them back into green spaces will improve the quality of life for the citizens and can provide spaces for food growing in neighbourhoods.”