The government has set a target of planting 100 million trees till 2021 under Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme.
So far more than two million trees have been planted in the country with the help of provincial forest departments, an official of Ministry of Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) said. Forests could slow down floodwater flows by 72 hours, besides that forests were also important to mitigate climate change impacts, particularly floods, he said. Currently, he added, forests on 27,000 hectares chopped annually in the country. ‘If this speed of deforestation continues the severity of impacts of climate change has been increased in shape of floods, heat waves, dust storms, urban flooding, land erosion and landslides and, health problems.
At present 4 to 5 per cent of the total area of Pakistan or 3.2 to 4 million hectares area was under forest. Pakistan has been ranked the 7th most affected county among the 135 countries in world because of climate change disasters from 1996-2015, according to the German Watch Index, an official of ministry of climate change said. Between 1996-2015, Pakistan suffered 133 different disasters because of climate change, according to the German Watch Index, he said. Pakistan has suffered economic damages of around $25-27 billion due to climate change-related disasters between 2010-2016, most of them floods, sea intrusion, heavy rains/cloudbursts. Damages occurred to public infrastructure, agriculture, irrigation network, health and education facilities.
According to Climate Change Ministry reports, he added, Pakistan required Rs 700 to 1400 billion annually to deal with climate change impacts, particularly in the agriculture, energy, transport, infrastructure, irrigation network, health and education sectors. Pakistan government was spending 2.1 per cent of its Gross Development Product annually on climate change-related projects, he stated. The Ministry of Climate Change has established units in all provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and FATA regions to set up strategies for reducing losses due to environmental changes.
He explained that provinces have made climate change risk reduction plans in water, energy, agriculture, irrigation and health sectors to make these sectors climate-safe.