The PTI government has taken upon itself the objective of restoring one million hectares of lost land through afforestation activities by the year 2030. Considering the rate at which we clean out land to make way for urban developments, this is one goal everyone can rally behind. If projects like the Bonn Challenge are carried out correctly, the benefits to the country could be immense.

Due to the fact that Pakistan’s economy is dominated by the primary sector, it is imperative for our agricultural disposition to be a conducive environment for productive activity. With rapid urbanisation, largely caused by a growing population, acres of land have been subjected to deforestation and placed under construction to cater to the needs of the population. This strips the land of its nutrients, promotes erosion, weakens air quality and fails to minimise the impact of global climate change. As such, not only do we risk economic unproductivity but we also threaten our wellbeing.

However, Monday marked the initiation of a 1.2 million tree plantation drive in Attock, led by special assistant to the PM on climate change, Malik Amin Aslam Khan. Similarly, the Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (BTTP), led by the Forest Department, encourages the plantation of trees along the Ghazi-Barotha water channel—all a part of the larger global Bonn Challenge. If we are able to make our one million hectares arable once again, we will be able to make significant contributions to the global initiative of restoring 350 million hectares within the next 10 years.

If the government is able to create a comprehensive plan to re-establish the lush lands of Pakistan, we could improve air and land quality, encourage biodiversity programmes and uplift ourselves to a higher standard in the global arena due to enforcing positive growth as per the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.