ISLAMABAD - President National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) has shown grave concern over ruthless cutting of trees in the Margalla Hills National Park, demanding pragmatic steps to safeguard the protected park.

As a whole, the construction of underpasses, flyovers and other developments were carried out at the cost of trees cutting in the capital which is another sad side of the picture, he told APP. Naeem Qureshi maintained that the temperature of the city is rising with the disappearance of trees and its ecology badly affected since the authorities failed to bring the practice a halt.

He said the importance of trees is not hidden from anyone but the authorities concerned are perhaps seemed ignorant about the role of trees in human lives and environment perspective. The plantation had to be carried out under plan, could not be done which made the situation further worsen. 

A little value since for every sapling planted over a dozen were being chopped on regular basis, Qureshi added. The NFEH President said that national parks are national treasures but the treasures are being looted with both hands and no one is there to stop this illicit practice.

The depletion of trees at such a fast pace will eventually result in degradation of environment on one hand and affect the beauty on the other. Citing the media reports, he flayed that the number of deployed guards to protect the trees in the park have reduced less than half as they are loathed to perform duties in hills.  He said the report also revealed that the Capital Development Authority (CDA) staff involved in cutting of trees besides villagers, questioning, who will protect the asset if the watchman become thief.

Terming the fine imposed for cutting of trees very meager, the NFEH President suggested to raise the fine at sufficient level and exercise it in letter and spirit in order to bring the graph of trees chopping below. He apprised that areas behind the Faisal Mosque were losing trees fast. Naeeem maintained that areas adjacent to heavily-degraded Nurpur Shahan are where the hills are heading. Rata Hotar is already feeling the pressure shifting from Nurpur Shahan where there are barely trees left.

The national park was fast losing acacias (that burnt well), berry trees, Zizyphus and Kachnaar. These are being replaced by wild bushes harmful for flora and fauna, he noted. Some areas behind the Air Force and Navy colonies were cleared and trees were trimmed by the forces for better visibility because of security reasons, he concluded.