Pakistan’s largest nursery owners on Thursday set alight seedlings as part of their plan to destroy one million plants in three phases starting on the World Forest Day to protest against the forestation policies of the government.
Talking to media, Ijaz Ali, a nursery owner from Mardan and Shaukat Ali from Swat said that they were killing the seedlings as the government and timber mafia continued to destroy forests and the horticulture industry.
“Ten thousand seedlings have been destroyed while the rest of the plants would be killed in three nurseries in Mardan and Swat,” they informed.
“Millions of seedlings, and tens of millions of acres of suitable land is available but nobody is ready to take interest,” said Ijaz Ali.
He said that all the seedlings had been taken care of for four to seven years but now they were not able take care of them anymore therefore they would die by this time next year anyway.
Ijaz said that billions were spent on plantation and forestation during the last two decades but the country lost around 33 per cent of its forests.
“This proves massive corruption. We have lost 0.9 million hectares of forests in the last twenty years which has taken its toll on environment, wildlife, and the natural system which cleans air and water, and bars flooding,” he said.
He lamented that due to a decrease in Pakistan’s per capita availability of forests, the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere had seriously been compromised.
“Shrinking forests are contributing to drier climate, reduced content of water in the soil, paying way for soil erosion, floods, landslides, decline in biodiversity, and extinction of many species,” he added.
He said Pakistan had the lowest level of forests in the SAARC region, and with this dismal global ranking, the country could not afford to lose 1.6 percent of its forests to corrupt officials and the timber mafia every year.
Ali added that reducing forest degradation was a challenge for policymakers as deforestation was a major contributor to global warming and one of the major causes of the enhanced greenhouse effect.
Calling for proper monitoring of forest management, he said that by 2030, the world would lose 80 per cent of its forests while the global GDP would be reduced by seven per cent by 2050 as deforestation would halve the living standard of the poor.