Karachi: Sindh Information and Forests Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah has said that the Sindh government is pursuing its project of urban forests with utmost transparency and monitoring so as to yield maximum results to improve environment of cities of the province.
“The elements of transparency and monitoring should be there so that plantation done under the urban forests projects is visible to everyone,” said the Sindh Information and Forests Minister while addressing as the chief guest at the 17th Annual Environment Conference and Environment Excellence Awards-2020 here at a hotel. The National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) organized the event.
He said that if the element of monitoring was missing then there was the risk that new trees were not planted in adequate number as part of the urban forests project as wild plants already present at the selected site are also counted to amplify the impact of the forestry drive. He said the project of urban forests was being pursued to implement the visions of “Sarsabz Sindh” and “Clean and Green Pakistan” of the government.
He informed the audience that Sindh government’s drive to grow mangrove forests had been recognized at the 2019 United Nations’ Climate Change Conference 2019 where Pakistan was represented by Prime Minister’s Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam. He said that this international recognition of the forestry drive of the Sindh government was a big achievement as the campaign to increase green cover in the province would continue in accordance with the global standards.
Sindh Forests and Wildlife Secretary Abdul Rahim Soomro said that tree plantation carried out along the Lyari Expressway in Karachi from Mauripur Bridge was the first successful scheme of urban forest in the province that is now visible to everyone. He said that urban forest schemes were also pursued at the University of Karachi, Shah Faisal Colony, Thaddo Dam in Gadap, and University of Sindh, Jamshoro.
He said that encroachment of the forest land was a major issue pertaining to his department as 1,39,000 acres of such forest area had been retrieved in the province from the encroachers. He said that another 12,000 acres of forest land in the province had been secured after cancelling its illegal allotment. He said that forests had been regenerated on 40,000 acres area of Sindh. He said that tree plantation had been carried out along total 350 kilometres length of different roads and highways in the province.
Soomro said that services of up to 25 lady forest officers of Sindh Forests Department had been utilized for a social mobilization campaign as they had been going to different schools to give lectures to students on the importance of greenery and tree plantation.
Vice-Chancellor of NED University of Engineering and Technology Prof Dr SH Lodi said that the NED University as part of centennial celebrations of its foundation had been pursuing the agenda of making its campus carbon-neutral by maximizing the tree plantation and minimizing the use of motor vehicles. He said that Fridays at the campus of NED University would be observed as vehicle-free days when the faculty-members, staff, and students would use only bicycles. He urged the audience to visit the university on Fridays after resumption of the academic activities to witness the use of bicycles on the campus.
Former Sindh Environment secretary Shamsul Haq Memon said that plastic pollution had emerged as the biggest threat to marine life and environment as an emergency should be imposed to fight this environmental menace.
Noted industrialist Mian Zahid Hussain said that merely 4.5 per cent forest cover in Pakistan was way too less as per the international standards as collective efforts should be made to increase greenery in urban areas.
NFEH President Naeem Qureshi said that his non-governmental organizations with support of the government, civic agencies, municipal bodies, community organizations, corporate, and industrial sectors had been pursuing a tree plantation drive since 2014 under which so far 3,60,000 trees had been planted in different cities especially in Karachi. He said that tree plantation campaign of NFEH would continue with the support of all the concerned stakeholders.
NFEH Secretary-General Ruqiya Naeem also spoke to pay tribute to late environmentalist Dr Sami uz Zaman Siddiqui, who recently passed away, to recognize his service for the environment in Pakistan.
Some 59 companies and organizations were conferred 17th Annual Environment Excellence Awards-2020 in recognition of their contribution to improve environmental conditions in Pakistan. Sindh Information and Forests Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah gave the awards. CEO Media Baithak Najia Asher, Engr. Nadeem Ashraf, Anis Younus and others also spoke on the occasion.