As the once rich in biodiversity metropolis is reduced to a concrete jungle, the civil society mourns the loss of Lahore’s trees. The provincial capital is set to lose 1,700 more trees, adding to the staggering 2,200 trees already cut down due to various infrastructure development projects within an ephemeral time of the past two years. The main projects that have been the cause of this huge loss for the city are the Signal-Free Corridor Project (from Gulberg’s Liberty roundabout to Shadman via Jail Road), the infamous Lahore Orange Line Metro Train Project and the Canal Road Widening Project. The new project set to add to the woes of many is the mega project - Elevated Expressway Project from Gulberg to Motorway - which is also likely to be launched in coming months.

The importance of the indigenous trees of Lahore, that are being cut by the hundreds, has been underestimated for far too long. The air pollution in the city continues to worsen adding to the numerous respiratory problems faced by the people. But this is a country where the words ‘environment’ and ‘pollution’ continue to remain beyond the comprehension of politicians and the destruction of the ecology and biodiversity of the city means nothing.

Their solution to the cutting of hundred-year-old trees lining the Canal, and replacing it with useless foreign ornamental species that do nothing to conserve the natural ecology of the city defies logic. The understanding that the larger the biomass of a tree the more carbon it will hold is simply beyond their comprehension. Consequently, when the tons of biomass of a mature banyan or pipal is destroyed, the replacement is a shrub and this is not the germane of cutting down these valuable members of our society. The protection of trees should be everyone’s top priority unless we envision a Lahore exactly like Beijing – one that has its citizens buy a can of fresh air for $20.