The government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has decided to form a technical advisory committee comprising of foresters, ecologist, academia, civil society and media to re-examine the species to be planted under KP’s Billion Tree Tsunami Project.
The decision was taken during a ‘Billion Tree Tsunami Project (BTTP) meeting’ held at the KP House on Monday.
The meeting was chaired by Malik Amin Aslam, former state minister for environment and Chair-Green Growth KP province. Nazar Shah, Secretary Forest KP, Muhammad Siddiqui Khan Khattak, Shabbir Hussain, the Project Director , Chief Conservator of Forests, KP, Azhar Ali Khan, Conservator of Forest, Abbottabad, large number of foresters, representatives from academia, civil society and the media also attended the meeting.
The meeting was convened after a news story of planting ‘”wrong species” such as Conocarpus, Eucalyptus, Dodonea and Mesquite,appeared in a newspaper and was circulated with foresters on All-Forester Network, maintained by a think tank LEAD Pakistan.
Responding to the concerns, Malik Amin Aslam said that almost 50 percent of the BTTP is accounted for by protected natural regenerations in existing natural forests. For the rest of 50% of the Billion Tree target which comes from the planned afforestation – more than 70 indigenous and locally popular species have been identified and are being planted as per local requirements, biodiversity considerations and ecosystem adaptability.
He said that the BTTP should be a source of pride for the country, as it has been duly recognised by the global “Bonn Challenge” as well as audited by international organisations and no other project can fall under this category of global recognition and transparency.
“Having said that, our team is ready to address any concerns that experts have regarding this project,” he maintained.
Nazar Shah said that the total percentage of Eucalyptus will be less than 10% in Billion Trees Project. “The figure of 50% ratio of Eucalyptus is wrong – in Nursery 23% stock this year was of Eucalyptus,” he clarified. He said that 40 million native species will further reduce this percentage.
Responding to the planting of Conocarpus, he stated that it might be less than 0.01% of the total plantation as it is only grown along roads and motorways.
Shah also announced that he would form a technical advisory committee comprising of foresters, academia, civil society and media, which will meet quarterly to look into such matters and ensure the smooth implementation of the project.
Furthermore, a field visit to the project sites will also be organised on the 18th of May for the committee to know the ground situation of the project as it stands.
It is worth mentioning here that the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) assigned Rs.15 Billion for the BTTP. It was acknowledged and formally registered by under the global Bonn Challenge, a voluntary regime set up under the UNFCCC umbrella for restoring 350 million hectares of forests around the world.