CHUNIAN-The World Forest Day was observed in Changa Manga to highlight the importance of forests and trees for the human being.

Global warming, pollution and deadly diseases which we are facing today are direct consequences of growing urbanisation and using forest and agriculture land for housing and industrial projects. On November 28, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously announced that March 21 of every year will be observed as the World Forest Day.

Changa Manga, the world’s first manmade forest, is an asset for Pakistan. In the past, the active connivance of forest officials and timber mafia had brought the great tree reservoir to the verge of extinction. However, in the past four years, the things have been changed dramatically. Not only the unbridled timber mafia has been thrown out of the forest but also a fast track development and re-plantation of the 60pc of the deforested area is continuing.

Heretofore, out of 8,000 deforested acres, more than 6,000 have been replanted and the plant retention rate in the last four years is above 90pc. To celebrate this, a huge gathering was organised by the Forest Department at the Changa Manga Rest House.

Punjab Minister for Forestry, Fisheries & Wildlife Mian Yawar Zaman, Secretary Forest Jahanzaib Khan, Chief Conservator of the Forest Shabbir Ahmad Rana, Conservator SardarFida Hussain, Conservator Khizer Hayat, Assistant Commissioner Ayesha Ghazanfar, Divisional Forest Officer Hayat Hassan, SDO Changa Manga Forest Imran Sattar, Chairman and Vice Chairman Mushtaq Ahmad Khan Malik Pervaiz, students, workers and public at large were present.

Addressing the ceremony, Zaman said that his department is making efforts to improve the forestry in the province. This is being done by the special funds allocated for the forests like Change Manga and under the Green Pakistan Programme of the federal government. He lauded the efforts of present DFO and his team for completing the fence, two row boundary plantation and boundary road of the forest. The Changa Manga Lake which was once a ghost place is now worthy to be visited in the province, he said. Installation of streetlights, new huts, fibre roofs, upgraded café, public toilets, new children gadgets, grass turfing, inner embankment of the lake area, rehabilitation of the grassy lawns, 5-acre arboretum, new waterfalls, new angling deck, cycling track, signage improvement, new benches and dustbins, ornamental plantation, water points and much more have been completed, the minister told the audience.

Students of Hazara Public School and College Changa Manga along with the minister planted saplings in the deforested area. Talking to the media men, the secretary forest said that in coming five years if the policy continues, Changa Manga will once again become the pride of Pakistan worldwide. It was also urged that a nation of 20 crore, if a person plants one tree, can bring a forest revolution in the country as the Forest Department is giving free plants to the colleges, schools, hospitals, public welfare institutes and farmers. The ceremony ended with the National Anthem.