BTAP surpasses 1b plantation target



Staff Report


The Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) owing to its successful implementation has surpassed the 1 billion target amid 88 per cent survival rate in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The KP’s BTAP is the largest mega project at provincial level that has been accomplished in record time and at reduced project cost.

The BTAP after the mass afforestation initiatives implemented in China, India and Ethiopia was the fourth largest world project, Chief Conservator Forest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Niaz Ali Khan told a media delegation, which recently visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to have an eye-witness account of the BTAP activities.

“The Billion Tree Tsunami Project of KP has transcended to global level from a provincial one. The global media, climate change and environmental watchdogs have commended the remarkable achievement of BTAP and its effective role in mitigation of climate change risks in the region.

“Even the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times has also appreciated the billion tree project,” he added.

Under the Bonn Challenge, he said, around 348,000 hectors (ha) target was set for rehabilitation of degraded and deforested forest cover till 2030.

“KP is the only province among 46 countries registered with the Bonn Challenge,” he added.

“We had started the BTAP with positive objectives in November, 2014 to increase forest area by 2 per cent in five years, which resulted in overall 25 per cent of forest cover in the province,” the chief conservator noted.

Project Director Muhammad Tehmasib Khan said the BTAP’s cost was estimated at  Rs19.448, however, it  had cost only Rs12.5 billion. About 80% saplings for plantation were produced at private nurseries and the remaining 20% at departmental nurseries.

He said the BTAP had been nominated for the Climate Action Award 2019, which would be disbursed at the Conference of Parties (COP 25) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Chile.

Tehmasib said the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) through satellite images and drones had found 88-95 per cent change in forest cover at 500 BTAP sites.

Some 208 million plants in the one billion tree target were managed through sowing, prevention of forest fires, grass cutting and aerial broadcasting which gave 20-25 per cent successful results, he added.

He said the project had been strictly monitored. “About 350 persons of the forest department were either dismissed or punished on various charges after thorough investigations while Rs6.9 million fine was imposed on three forest officers in Dera Ismail Khan on corruption charges. It exhibits how strong accountability and transparency is being ensured to make the project a complete success” he added.

The project generated 0.5 million green jobs, which mostly benefitted the local community, he added.

The media delegation was taken to three different plantation sites of Gari Chandan Peshawar, Hero shah Malakand and Baldhair Hazara Forest Division.

“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has restored over 22 per cent of its forest cover after implementation of the BTAP with over 5 per cent forest cover achieved across the country. Prior to the BTAP, plantation was carried out at low level with scarce resources, which showed inattention of the then ruling political elites,” Chief Conservator Malakand Division Muhammad Riaz said.

He said the plantation of all the local species including Chir, Sanatha, Keekar, Phulai, Ber and eucalyptus had been carried out  at 83 sites for the last four years. Chir was the most grown tree of the division, he added.

The local people had planted some 3,332,500 saplings over 3,100 ha at 149 sites, he said.

He lauded the efforts of former secretary forest Syed Nazar Hussain Shah who burnt the mid night oil to make the BTAP a success.

Conservator Hazara Forest Division Malik Sagheer Ahmed said plantation under the BTAP had increased the forest cover in the division to 9.6 per cent.

The Forest Department in Hazara Forest Division along with BTAP plantation voluntarily organized vegetation in adopted sites mainly sideways of Hazara Motorway, he added.

“The voluntarily done plantation on the adopted sites has not been reported in the BTAP. However, at the outset our plantation across the Hazara Motorway does not reap full results. After repeated sowing in the region showed positive results where erected plants at their initial stage can be seen at the moment. There have been local species of trees planted on the sideways of Hazara Motorway to encourage natural ecology,” Malik Sagheer told the media team .

“The local species being planted on the sideways of Hazara Motorway include Keekar, Sanatha, Phulai, Iple Iple, Heaven Tree, Eucalyptus and Popular. The sideways are the National Highways Authority’s acquired land and the local community has nothing to do with them,” he noted.