APP DigitalLAHORE, Feb 12 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday launched the countrywide spring tree plantation drive and urged the whole nation to join it for their children’s future.

“The whole nation should take part in it because this is for our children’s future. All including school children, university and college students should be made part of it. Allocate them specific areas for the protection of plants,” the prime minister said addressing the launching ceremony of spring tree plantation at Miyawalki Urban Forest at Jilani Park here.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, Chief Minister of Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Punjab Minister Mian Mahmood Rasheed, Special Assistant to CM Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan attended the event.

The prime minister unveiled a plaque and planted a sapling to launch the plantation as part of the government’s efforts to accomplish the target of 10 billion trees during the five-year term.

The Jilani Park’s Miyawalki Forest is one of the 51 sites being developed in Lahore to revive the city’s green cover and address the issues of pollution particularly smog.

Pioneered by a Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki, Miyawalki is a unique technique that helps build native forests 10 times faster and 30 times denser.

Under the approach, dozens of native species are planted in the same area, close to each other, which ensures that the plants receive sunlight only from the top, and grow upwards than sideways.

The prime minister said the children’s participation in 10 Billion Tree was essential because all was being done to protect their future.

He said in parliamentary democracies, the governments unfortunately had been thinking of their election victory and executed short-term projects to inaugurate and win votes.

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He said long term planning was inevitable for any country’s development and exemplified China which had started a massive plantation in the country and also introduced green cities to suppress the pollution caused by massive development. The prime minister said Lahore’s green cover had vanished by 70 percent during last 12-13 years. Resultantly, the skyline of the city was engulfed by smoke even in February which otherwise used to be the best month there.

“But now the sun is not visible due to smog, not fog. Smog reduces the 6-11 years average life of an individual particularly the children and elders. This is a silent killer as the chemical travels to the lungs,” he said.

He said the world research told that the damages of smog could not be quantified.
Imran Khan said having born and bred in Lahore, he had witnessed the evolution of the city from a green to a polluted city because the governments never thought about environmental protection.

“Now we are seeing the consequences but we are going to reverse it,” he resolved.
Referring to the Singaporean government’s successful river clean-up initiative, the prime minister said everything could be changed but it required hard work.

Calling the development of Miyawaki Urban Forestation a “gigantic first step”, he said it would grow in 10 to 20 years comparing the 50 years required for other forests.

The prime minister repeatedly emphasized the federal ministry and KP government to publicize their massive tree plantation projects to make the people know their efforts to enhance green cover and the achievements in this regard.

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He said he would also visit the plantation sites in other areas and announced to launch a “silent revolution” of massive olive plantation by next week in the country to reduce the import bill of ghee and edible oils as well as enhance exports.

He said Pakistan was uniquely rich with 12 climatic zones and thus able to grow everything but instead the country suffered deforestation.

He said the huge jungles of Changa Manga, Kundian, Chichawatni, and Dipalpur had vanished causing the one-degree rise in temperature in cities which would have a negative impact on the climate.

The prime minister also urged the government to engage the businessmen to seek donations, though, he said, they did not pay taxes but hoped for good financial support for the plantation.

He said he would personally monitor the plantation to see the volume and progress in the initiative.

He also instructed the government to develop urban forest in Lahore wherever the green space was found.

In his address, Malik Amin Aslam thanked the collaborating partners for their support to the development of 51 urban forests to revive green cover of Lahore, previously called the “city of forests”.

He said by March this year, the forests would grow across all sites. He said due to massive construction activity and deforestation, the temperature in cities had risen by one degree begetting problems like smog, heat, and untimely rains.

He told the gathering that by December this year, the government would achieve its target of one billion trees under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami campaign.