LAHORE: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) has started planting nonindigenous and exotic plant—the Conocarpus eractus (button mangrove) – in an under-developed public park of the Mehmood Booti area of the provincial capital, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The park is being developed at Lahore Waste Management Company’s (LWMC) old dumpsite, aiming to convert it into a recreational site for the public. The said dumping site was set up in 1997 at an area of 40 acres and was closed after the LWMC established a new landfill site at Lakhodair.
Authorities announced to convert the dumpsite into a public park while making it the first park in this regard. After an approval from the board of governance, the LWMC, in collaboration with PHA, started the development work.
An official in LWMC privy to the development informed that PHA had planted thousands of Conocarpus plants which were nonindigenous and exotic species and were harmful to the ecosystem. They said the PHA authorities should tell the people that why did they decide to plant the species when it had been banned in Karachi due to its adverse effects on nature.
It may be noted that a reason behind the plantation could be the fact that it is one of the cheapest plants available in the market.
Ecologists and experts have also expressed reservations over the plantation of the said plant. According to World Wide Fund Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan) Manager Conservation Kamran Hussain, Conocarpus would bring adverse impacts on the city’s general environment. Speaking to Pakistan Today, he said that if it was planted in a park than it would be more dangerous as it would damage the infrastructure of the park.
“The motive of any park is to make its habitat for local or wild birds and insects but these types of exotic species are useless,” he said and added that besides being harmful to the ecosystem it also caused allergies as it released pollen on a large scale. However, he said that the plant might be planted if required but on a small scale.
LWMC Project Director Hamid Zaman told Pakistan Today that the project of plantation would be completed at the cost of Rs18 million by next year. He said that PHA had planted 14,500 plants out of the planned 20,000 under phase one and 6,000 of them were Conocarpus. “At least 2,000 more Conocarpus plants will be planted at the park,” he said while replying to a question.
PHA Director General Mian Shakeel Ahmed was of the view that to convert the dumping site into a green place, the Conocarpus was the most effective plant. He said that the Mehmood Booti area had become a toxic place due to garbage and that’s why no other plant could be grown up there. “Kanair and American Daisy are not trees and that’s why we had no other options,” he said and added that PHA would be pruning the Conocarpus whenever they grew to the height of eight feet so they could not release pollen. “There would be no harmful effects of these trees on the ecosystem or the residents,” he maintained.