Every year, the government and private sectors take several initiatives to increase forest cover of Pakistan that includes twice a year plantation drives of spring and Monsoon. Still, Pakistan is far behind to achieve 25 percent of its total area covered with forest, as set target of the United Nations. The several reasons include deforestation, lack of awareness and failure to protect and survive a huge number of saplings planted every year.
The Ministry of Climate Change launched a door-to-door plantation awareness drive “Ghar Ghar Aik Shajar” under Citizen Forester Campaign of Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme. Under this campaign, 120 environmental volunteer students from Islamic International University, Quaid-i-Azam University and Fatima Jinnah Women University went to 10,000 homes of various sectors of Islamabad, spread awareness messages and distributed plants. The purpose of this campaign was to create public awareness through personal interaction on behalf of Ministry of Climate Change. The environmental students understand the issues of climate change and deforestation.Hence,they were in better position to make people realise the importance of plants. A tree planted at home is more secure and protected because it becomes the responsibility of the residents of the house rather than on roadside or ground. The volunteer students also took pictures in each home while handing over the plants for a proof that they covered 10,000 homes.
Young people should be involved in climate change issues at official and non-official levels because they are energetic and ready to carry out difficult tasks
Under the second part of this campaign, 5000 plants were distributed in public schools of Islamabad with the support of Pakistan Institute for Environment-Development Action Research. It helped store in the minds of kids the importance of plantation at schools and homes.The teachers also promised to teach children about the importance of plantation regularly. The vision implanted in this age will be reflected throughout their lives in their actions. This campaign became very popular on social media as 5000 tweets were done with #GharGharAikShajar. The social media users liked this campaign and showed interest to join it. A grand ceremony was organised by Ministry of Climate Change to award certificates and shields to the volunteers.
This campaign played an active role in mobilising the urban population of Islamabad to grow plants at homes. The residents welcomed the students who spared their time from studies and utilised in this important practical cause.This is the first environmental awareness campaign in Pakistan, perhaps, even in the world in which volunteer students went to such a large number of homes in a city to create awareness.
There are several messages attached to this initiative. The whole world is talking about climate change and global warming, emphasising on reducing carbon emissions, which requires finances, technology and capacity building. But, certain simple solutions need to be identified. We can reduce global warming to a large extent and come over climate change issue if every person in this world at least plants one tree at home every year. Second, young people should be involved in climate change issues at official and non-official levels because they are energetic and ready to carry out difficult tasks. The government should formulate such strategies that can involve young minds to implement their ideas. This campaign must be started in other provinces and federating units of Pakistan and expand it to whole Pakistan.
The writer is based in Islamabad and works on environmental issues. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.She tweets at @zilehumma_1
Published in Daily Times, May 5th 2018.