Pakistanis have seen and experienced the consequences of deforestation and cutting down of trees. Heat waves continue to affect numerous residents in Karachi. However, the government had taken the responsibility to plant millions of trees to help reduce these adverse weather conditions.
After a heat wave killed approximately 1,300 in the previous year, the government had thought it wise to find a solution to this environmental problem that has lead to several deaths. Large sums of money have been earmarked to execute this initiative. But still a year on, there are no signs that the government is fulfilling its promise.
The provincial minister Sharjeel Memon reported that the campaign that was to help raise funds and increase awareness about tree planting went down the drain after the minister was found to be involved in corrupt practices and was sacked.
On the other hand, a senior official in the government claimed that similar initiatives have been budgeted for in other parts of the country.
But far from what is been said by officials that there is still an increase in cutting down trees and no sign of new ones being grown. Trees are being cut down for several reasons which include for generating income, safety measures, and agricultural purposes. Even though the list goes on, this situation is not an appealing one for the residents of Karachi as it is leading to very serious and dangerous climatic effects.
The government had been known to cut down trees with the claims of doing so for security reasons without making any efforts to plant new ones.
The Eucalyptus tree had to be imported from Australia after Pakistan had no means to produce paper or pulp which was no longer being imported in the country. The troubles with having this type of tree soon came to light as is began blocking the sewerage system and pummeled the water passage.
The eucalyptus tree is a water-intensive plant that consumes a lot of water. It was estimated to have consumed 90 liters of water on a daily basis which affected the amount of groundwater available in Karachi and other cities. However, the tree is of great importance in the production of paper and pulp for Pakistanis. The trees can be seen in various parts of the country.
The general public had been prohibited to plant eucalyptus trees on fertile lands. Eucalyptus trees can however, be grown in swampy areas where there is enough water to be consumed by the plants and not affect the domestic water supply.
In a bid to protect the water supply in Karachi and other neighborhoods, the government had a number of eucalyptus trees to be cut down. A test was later carried out to see if a solution could be found and date palm trees were planted instead
Dr Tahir Qureshi an ecosystem expert disclosed that the government had made a mistake in making this decision. He went on to back his statement by saying “without that date palm trees can only be planted along shoreline through particular technology, the government planted the tree the same way other trees are grown and they made the disaster worst eventually.”
After this disappointment, another type of tree was grown commonly known as the Ethiopian Teak. It was planted all over the city. Although this plant was a success in surviving without affecting the sewerage and water supply, it also had its negative impacts. It produced a certain kind of toxin that killed other plants and acted as an allergen to some people.
Some citizens disagreed with the claims that the plant was an allergen saying” the Ethiopian Teak has passed a decade in many parts of Karachi, the tree has been fruitful and people even plant them in their environment. Yet still no one has ever complained of having an allergic reaction.”