Islamabad-The Ministry of Climate Change has set the target to increase the existing forest cover in the country from 5 per cent to 12 per cent to effectively tackle issues relating to global warming, said an official.

The ministry planted as many as 15.31 million saplings across the country till December 2017 under Green Pakistan Programme, the official said, adding that under the UN charter, there must be 12 per cent forest cover of the total area of the country, but Pakistan had only 5 per cent.

Sharing the steps taken by government to achieve the target, he said that about 707 million saplings had been planted in a period of five years from 2011 to 2016 in the four provinces, Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas. He said that around 14.78 million saplings of different species were available in various nurseries for plantation under the programme.

The official further said that the main objective of the Green Pakistan Programme (GPP) was to facilitate transition towards environmentally-resilient Pakistan, adding that the estimated cost of the GPP was Rs3.65 billion for a period of 5 years. Under the programme, he said, a total of 100 million new indigenous plants would be planted in different ecological zones.

Out of total amount, Rs538.692 million were utilised by the provinces and federal territories during 2016-17 and Rs212.034 million had been released during first quarter of the current fiscal year under the Public Sector Development Programme, he added. He said under the programme, 1.564 million saplings had been planted in Punjab, 22.281 million in Sindh, 7.016 million in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 0.36 million in Balochistan, 2.55 million in AJK, 0.286 million in GB and 0.28 million in FATA.

To another question, he said that a new regulatory authority would be established to overcome the challenge of climate change, which would also regulate the issues related to environment. He said that during the last four and half years, the government had taken several policy measures to safeguard against climate change impact in mountain areas. These include slow stabilisation of road projects to minimise landslides, introduction of short duration food crops, improvement in feedstock technology for livestock and measures to prevent crop damage due to unexpected weather patterns.

Pakistan is the fourth country after Indonesia, Vietnam and Bangladesh that has developed comprehensive approach towards climate change financing, the official claimed.

First Climate Change Public Institutional Review was launched in 2015 examining Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and AJK. The current report includes federal, provinces and the three regions. This report presents a roadmap of a wide range of reforms that will require sustained efforts and commitments for implementations alongside a short to medium term plan of action, he said.

The Climate Change Financing Framework is a major output of the efforts of Pakistan, supported by the UNDP. The process began with a Climate Public Expenditure Institutional Report which provided useful insight to establish a baseline for climate change expenditure. He said that Pakistan had gained significant experience in capacity building of communities, sustainable forest management and other countries could benefit from that experience.

The official said that Wildlife Department of Ministry of Climate Change was in the process to formulate first National Wildlife Policy. After the successful approval of Pakistan First National Forest Policy, for which the process was started in 2015 on the direction of then Prime Minister, a comprehensive forest policy was finalised in consultation with the provinces and Council of Common Interests in a meeting held in September 2017.

Although, forest policy is a provincial subject but National Forest Policy was formulated to meet the contemporary challenges of fast-changing developments that transcend provincial and national boundaries.  “The healthy wildlife plays an important role in maintaining the ecosystem. Pakistan is land of diverse wildlife that plays an important role in environment” he said.