The Environment and Forest Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa under its Billion Tree Tsunami Project (BTTP) is going to complete its first man-made forest at Ghari Chandan near Peshawar by March next year to counterbalance the growing effects of climate change, environmental pollution and global warming in the region. This was stated by Chief Conservator Forest, Sadeeq Khattak said this while briefing journalists during visit to Ghari Chandan Forest being raised about 10 kilometres South of Peshawar under BTAP.
Special Secretary Environment, Forest and Wildlife Department, Ziaul Haq, Additional Secretary Zareeful Mani and Conservator Southern Circle, Shafqat Munir were also present on the occasion. Sadeeq Khattak said work on this forest was in full swing that would be completed by March next year, adding so far one million saplings of different species have been planted on 2000 acres of land. “Practical afforestration was started in December 2014 following a three-year agreement with local community as we are moving fast to achieve the target within stipulated time,” he added.
He said that despite the challenges of shortage of water tankers, sudden eruption of fire, rain shortfall and livestock grazing, tree plantation of various species like Palosa, eucalyptus, pine and kikker continued with co-operation of local communities.
Clarifying a report of a private TV channel about drying of trees at the forest, the CCF said survival rate of planted sapling is about 90 percent and two tankers were hired for watering of trees and rejected the impression that saplings are dying due to lack of watering. Any person including media wanted to see the plantation on ground would be facilitated,” Khattak maintained. He requested media to confirm reports from Forest Officials concerned before releasing and publishing it as wrong reporting can affect the confidence of the staff vis-à-vis investors.
Shafqat Munir, Conservator Forests South Circle told journalists that Rs 28 million have been spent on raising of this forest so far against estimated expenditure cost of Rs 50 million by saving Rs 22 million to the provincial exchequer. He said monitoring of the project was done by government as well as private reputed agencies/organisations on regular basis with financial transparency were its hallmark.
“BTAP was recognised at Boon Challenge, Paris Conference 2015 and Cop 21 conference that was a great achievement for the country viz a viz Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.” After expiry of three years agreement, he said, this forest would be handed over to the land owners/right holders for looking after under supervision of forest department.
Munir said climate change was a big challenge to the region that could be effectively counter through collective efforts with maximum rising of maximum forests. “Forests not only provide solutions for addressing many development challenges including poverty eradication, environmental sustainability, food security and clean water, biodiversity conservation, controlling floods and disaster risk reduction but these were also vital for creating green economies and mitigation effects of climate change.”
To achieve these objectives, BTAP project was launched to prove ecosystem of classified forests, as well as privately owned waste and farm lands, the project therefore entail working in close collaboration with concerned communities/ stakeholders to ensure their meaningful participation through effectuating project promotion and extension services. Later, the journalists visited around the Ghari Chandan forest and were briefed about the old and young plantations.