Islamabad: Pakistan will now harness the power of technology to protect nature, prevent deforestation, and safeguard rich biodiversity.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday inaugurated Pakistan’s first smart forest at the Rakh Jhok Forest in the outskirts of Lahore in Sheikhupura, famous for Hiran Minar (Deer Tower) built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir in memory of his pet antelope.
• 10 million trees to be planted
• Agricultural farms, lakes, orchards, eco-tourism parks
• Bird and turtle sanctuaries
It is the natural glory of Lahore and its surroundings that the administrators aim to restore with the smart forest which will be equipped with sensor technology and surveillance systems. The goal is “to protect and create urban forests” and restore waterways to make our cities healthier, prosperous and more liveable, PM Khan said.
At least 10 million trees will be planted in the forest area spread over 24,000 kanals (3071 acres) of land. Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) is spearheading the project in collaboration with China’s Huawei and Sapphire Bay consortium. The total cost of the project is about Rs3 billion.
Talking to Gulf News, Imran Amin, CEO of RUDA, said that it is the first time that technology is being utilized in Pakistan to monitor and protect forests. “The digital system includes sensors to monitor tree growth, soil and water while the noise sensor will help detect sound of chainsaw, vehicles that will alert and prevent forest from illegal logging and poachers” Amin shared.
Some of the major features of the forest will be botanical gardens, bird and turtle sanctuaries, agri farms, lakes, orchards, and eco-tourism parks. Nearly 30,000 trees have already been planted with an average 3,000 being planted daily. The project is expected to be completed within a year.
They key partner for the project is Huawei which has helped 22 protected areas in 18 countries conserve biodiversity and natural resources, protect habitat, and monitor endangered species more efficiently using its digital technologies. Huawei‘s cloud AI is also utilized by California-based Rainforest Connection to protect and monitor forests in Latin America.
“Forests play a critical role in mitigating climate change” Imran Khan said, lamenting that our forests are being degraded at alarming rates. Khan has launched several ecological protection and restoration projects under his government’s initiative to plant 10 billion trees across the country.