Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) deserves credit for taking concrete actions to protect the environment. Monday was significant in this regard. On the one hand, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan approved the launch of the Protected Area Initiative, which is a multi-purpose project. It stands to provide employment opportunities to the youth and daily wagers along with preserving the natural resources of the country. In another significant development, the government of Pakistan reached an accord worth $188 million with the World Bank (WB) for environmental protection. These initiatives are essential, as they will play a key role in making people realise the significance of preserving our environment.

The developments came at a time when the pace of deforestation in the country is the world’s highest. Hopefully, the initiatives will not only put a stop to the practice, but they will also prove vital in the regeneration of forests in the country. Forests are considered the lungs of the earth, but Pakistan’s tree cover has shrunk to 1.9 percent according to one report. Ideally, a country must have a forest cover of at least 25 percent of its total land to absorb the adverse effects of climate change and environmental degradation. The two decisions are therefore praiseworthy; their focus will be on regeneration of forests.

Studies reveal that over the last few years, climatic conditions are rapidly changing. Abnormal fluctuations in temperature, severe heatwaves and dry spells of weather, even in areas that once had mild weather are the direct consequences of deforestation. Climate change, according to experts, has emerged as one of the most formidable challenges that can even undermine the political stability of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the consistent policies and plans of the incumbent government to protect the country’s environment give one hope. The government deserves all praise for initiating such multi-purpose projects.