Islamabad - “The Prime Minister’s target for achieving 50 million trees need not take 5 years, it can be done in one day – on 18th August, the National Plantation Day.”

This was claimed by Shahida Kauser, Chairperson Subh-e-Nau — an environment and public health concern, a not for profit think tank that has been promoting plantation for more than 2 decades. While many quarters have termed this a welcome step but the experts await the action plan from the government, which is known more for destroying the environment with its mega development projects.

In the midst of participating in various plantation initiatives in and near Karachi and Islamabad, the organization has pointed to many opportunities after the Prime Minister’s recent announcement, while they have also pointed to various past initiatives that could not be successful. The Subh-e-Nau chief mentioned that “after lobbying for 12 years, the Cabinet had approved the “National Plantation Day” to be commemorated on 18th of August every year. This is the opportunity to involve the media to raise awareness, involve the state and non-state machinery and help each and every citizen to plant indigenous trees.

So imagine if only a proportion of the population was to plant trees, we can achieve this target easily.” She added that “plantation is the only first step – growing a tree is different from planting it, so sustainability and protection of old and new trees is of paramount importance.” The chairperson Subh-e-Nau said that unfortunately trees that are not suitable for the climate of Pakistan are planted every year. “Even the President planted an aurocaria tree, which is an exotic.”

Mentioning the involvement of the organisation in green campaigns, Shahida stated that Subh-e-Nau has planted more than 150,000 trees with about 80% survival rate. “Our limitation is as a non-profit we only plant where private or public organisations take ownership of the plantation and sustain it, while we whole heartedly provide technical expertise and indigenous fruit trees to anyone showing interest in the cause.

She was of the opinion that the government cannot do everything alone, nor can the citizens do it alone, it has to team work, and ownership has to come from both sides. Also one of the most important elements in saving the green cover is implementation of laws to guard forest areas, urban and rural parks and parklands.