Government of Khyber Pakthunkhwa in collaboration with IUCN launched its billion-tree campaign as a contribution to the global Bonn Challenge on occasion the World Environment Day today, Islamabad. The Bonn Challenge was established at a ministerial roundtable in September 2011, at the invitation of the German Government and IUCN. It calls for the restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020.The KPK government had especially invited the IUCN President, Mr. Xinsheng Zhang to the inaugural ceremony.
A large number of representatives from civil society, federal and provincial government, and the media were present on the occasion.
In his keynote address, Mr. Xinsheng Zhang said that the government of KPK and Imran Khan deserved appreciation on such a needed and valuable initiative. He termed it a good example for others to follow.
Mr. Imran Khan, said that it is a unique programme that has a long term impact on the coming generations. He further said that “this campaign will not just focus on tree plantations, but will also create job opportunities for the youth.” He said that KPK government would generate funds by selling out the confiscated wood from the timber mafia the volume of which is approximately 9 billion rupees. These funds would be used to strengthen the forestry department.
Mr. Malik Amin Aslam, IUCN Vice President and Regional Councillor, Asia said that with such a huge plantation programme Pakistan can earn carbon credits in the days to come and if the carbon market goes up KPK government can earn a lot of money in the future. He mentioned that it was first time in the country that queues were formed for getting a plant.
In the concluding remarks Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Regional Director Asia said that it was a clear demonstration of KPK government’s commitment to this global campaign to restore millions of hectares of the world's deforested and degraded lands. She termed this launching as one of many such examples where organizations can together contribute towards a common cause, bringing about improvement to our environment and helping the cause of sustainable development in the province.
Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, Secretary, Forestry, Environment and Wildlife said that one can find a sense of ownership amongst the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwa towards a billion tree campaign. He further said that the leadership wants to see a change in the minds of the people.
Mr. Faizul Bari, Project Director, BTTAP made a detailed presentation on the salient features of the programme said that 20,000 private nurseries will be established to procure 50.00 million seedlings. He said that average price of the plant is between Rs.30 and Rs.45 and the youth will be encouraged to raise nurseries after proper trainings. He further added that around 0.5 million hectares community and private sector land will be used.