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1.7 mln tonnes Carbon to be sequestered after BTT completion: Amin Aslam.

ISLAMABAD -- Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam Wednesday said Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) will help sequester around 1.7 million Carbon released due to Carbon dioxide emissions.

Speaking at the launching ceremony of report on the impact of BTAP on biodiversity by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), he said, 'Billion Tree Tsunami or BTAP is project which really celebrates biodiversity and a gift to nature. We need global biodiversity to sustain life for itself.'

He elaborated that we need to adopt local approach for global biodiversity whereas BTAP was the first one which really exceeded its own target by reviving Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's forest cover 5 per cent to 6 per cent.

'Convincingly, the project has been started with the project cycle-1 or PC-1 of Rs 20 billion which ended up at Rs 12 billion however, we luckily saved Rs 8 billion of the national exchequer. BTAP aimed at restoring 350,000 hectors of forest which ultimately ended in bringing back 600,000 hectors forest,' the Adviser said.

On the World Biodiversity Day 2019, he added that it should be kept in minds, adding 'When we plant trees, we start expanding habitat and this has lead to the revival of denuding ecosystem. If you give nature a chance then it will bounce back with the outcomes beyond imagination.'

Amin informed that around 5 lac jobs for nursery guards were created under BTAP whereas 200 women groups were organized and sensitization was made which aimed at changing behaviors of the masses towards nature.

'Billion Tree Tsunami has addressed seven Aichi targets and six targets under Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It is contributing towards the environment of Pakistan and also the world,' he mentioned.

He appreciated IUCN for compiling the report in record time as it was a challenge to review the impact of such a mega project on biodiversity as effects on biodiversity were not a one day process rather it had short term and long term repercussions.

IUCN, Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema there were success stories of Pakistan for biodiversity conservation initiatives which needed to be replicated around the world.

He said, 'Malik Amin Aslam has been instrumental in implementing BTAP and also the architect of environmental preservation projects in the country.'

Cheema said, 'Trees are not only trees rather the soul of this planet. Pakistan has low vegetative cover country. We have little understanding of benefits of trees which needs to be improved.'

IUSN, he said had undertaken biodiversity impact of BTAP and the report was launched which encompassed all the components and introspectively noted its impacts on biodiversity. He highlighted the role of media in awareness and advocacy for ecological conservation initiatives across the country.

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations Country Representative Mina Dowlatchahi said, 'Biodiversity is a key to resilience and mitigation of climate change which also helps in conserving ecosystems conserving food and environment. I am witnessing increased awareness and actions towards biodiversity conservation and particularly environment, Ministry of Climate Change is taking lead in preservation measures.'

'BTAP has been a successful project and a good example where countries like New Zealand are picking it up. There is a direct link between malnutrition and biodiversity as over 35 per cent of households eat less than five food items,' she underscored.

She added that forests were home to wildlife and had numerous benefits.

Secretary Forest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Syed Nazar Hussain Shah said that the project under petty politics had been maligned to an extent that it looks dark other than green project. He requested the masses to visit the sites of BTAP of their own choice where the forest department would facilitate them in reaching those spots.

'People should visit Billion Tree project sites and see with their bare eyes and then evaluate the project. We will welcome their candid feedback and they should avoid criticizing the project on hearsay,' he said.

It was high time foe every segment of the society to partake in the ambitious environment preservation programme, adding the land under BTAP belonged to poor masses which was rehabilitated, Nazar said.

He urged the Adviser Amin Aslam and media to visit Billion Tree Tsunami sites and had fresh outlook of the programme. The propaganda had demoralized against the project team and including myself which should be shunned, he added.

IUCN, Programme Officer Asim Jamal delivered a comprehensive overview of the report. He said the report was basically the impact assessment of Billion Tree Tsunami on biodiversity. IUCN had worked out with the management of BTAP on this report which mentioned that an increase in the area of forests in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was noted by 2 per cent in five years. Around 516 acres land was covered where 165 million saplings were distributed throughout Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Meanwhile, two short documentaries were also presented including another on Garhi Chandan manmade forest near Peshawar where the Adviser remarked BTAP as the biggest truth on ground.

The report was launched by the Adviser, Secretary Forest and IUCN Country Representative Mahmood Akhtar Cheema. This year the theme for World Biodiversity Day was "Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health".

According to UN reports, the last century had witnessed more than 90 per cent of the crop varieties and half of the breeds of domestic animals being wiped out. Moreover, all of the world's 17 main fishing grounds were now being fished at or above their sustainable limits and locally-varied food production systems were under threat, it added.

"From individual species through entire ecosystems, biological diversity is vital for human health and well-being. The quality of the water we drink, the food we eat and the air we breathe all depend on keeping the natural world in good health. We need healthy ecosystems to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to address climate change: they can provide 37 per cent of the mitigation needed to limit global temperature rise,"it added.
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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:May 23, 2019
Words:1090
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