Employees of Forest department give away plants to the children, during free plants distribution among the citizens from Forest department, outside HPC. Image Credit: Online

Islamabad: In Islamabad, the passion for plants was on full display on Sunday as children and adults planted hundreds of trees across the city as part of the Plant for Pakistan campaign.

At the plantation site in the G-12 neighbourhood of Islamabad, it looked like a small celebration as dozens of youngsters and children gathered to plant trees in areas designated by the Islamabad city administration.

“Planting is one of the easiest and most sustainable contribution to the environment. Besides, it’s a fun and healthy activity for families and to nurture children’s connection to nature,” said Ambreen Jawad, a young mother of two, who decided to joined the activity after seeing frequent posts on social media.

Several shops in Islamabad offered free saplings to tree lovers to make it convenient for people to take part in several plantation activities across the city as Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the nation to observe August 18 as Plant for Pakistan by planting more than 22 million plants across the country.

The plantation activity kicked off in Islamabad as Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmoud Qureshi planted a pine tree sapling at the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmoud and other officials joined him.

On the occasion, the Foreign Minister said the tree plantation campaign not only showcased the commitment of the government to afforestation and climate change mitigation, but was also aimed at motivating the people to become part of this effort.

“With perseverance and commitment, Pakistan will achieve the target of a 10 billion tree tsunami, the fruits of which will be enjoyed by the future generations,” he added.

The current plantation drive is part of a 10 Billion Tree Tsunami across the country launched by Imran after the success of Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project (BTAP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that received global appreciation by the United Nations Environment Program, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Bonn Challenge and other organisations.

Aban Marker Kabraji, the Regional Director of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Asia, in a video message said that “implementation of 10 billion trees is one of the most important afforestation programme Pakistan has ever undertaken.”

She added that it is not only important to rehabilitate the degraded land with forest “but also because Pakistan is one of the worst impacted country by climate change. Afforestation is one of the best buffers in terms of negative impacts of climate change in the world.”

Prime Minister’s Advisor on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam says Imran Khan’s Clean Green Pakistan campaign aims to facilitate transition towards an environmentally resilient Pakistan through initiatives such as afforestation, biodiversity conservation and enabling policy environment.

The first phase of the programme focuses on enhancement of the forest cover by adding 3.29 billion indigenous plants through afforestation, reforestation and regeneration over the next four years to curb the impacts of climate change. Besides plantation, the Ministry of Climate Change is paying due attention to stability of biodiversity and conservation of plants.

Besides plantation, the government has also banned use of plastic bags, and is aiming to introduce electric vehicles and regulations for green buildings under the Clean and Green Pakistan programme.

Social media has played a key role in spreading the message of importance of forests. Umar Arshad, a young nature lover who has planted more than 5,000 trees since 2016, told Gulf News that he realised that value of forests when he saw how scarcity of forests and water affected people and wildlife.

“Trees are our life-support system. The air we breathe. The food we eat. The wood we use. The shade we desperately need. Everything comes from trees,” he said.

Arshad calls for protecting trees in his social media posts by sharing photos of how he has transformed the environment of places by planting a few dozen trees.