Forestation

Kamal demands punishment for tree-cutters

 

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI

 

CITY Nazim Mustafa Kamal has called for a ‘Tree Act’ to be drawn up and implemented immediately, stating that those involved in cutting trees should be severely reprimanded through sentences and fines.

Speaking at a seminar titled “Forestation, Aesthetic Plantation and Landscaping Study of Karachi”, held at Civic Center on Saturday, Kamal expressed his concern over the lack of importance given to the city’s vegetation. “In all major cities of the world, there are strict rules and regulations to protect greenery and not a single tree can be cut without obtaining an No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the municipality concerned,” he said, adding that the CDGK is committed to developing parks and is taking actions against land grabbers to salvage parks of the city.

Tahir Trader-Landscape Consultants Chief Director Dr Ghulam Kerio presented a preliminary proposal for the city’s forestation at the seminar, which was organized by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in collaboration with Karachi Mega City Sustainable Development Program (KMCSDP), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Sindh government.

However, the city nazim asked Kerio to consult all CDGK departments before submitting a preliminary report to the CDGK Parks and Horticulture Department, stating that the firm’s report shows no synchronization with the plans of CDGK, National Highway Authority and other agencies. Kamal reiterated the dire need to protect Karachi’s vegetation and asked the firm to propose laws to protect the city’s trees.

The firm’s proposal provides a practical plan to improve the environment and increase the vegetation cover of Karachi. Commenting on the city’s built area of 1,234 square km and urban agriculture area of 2,293 square km, Kerio stated that the highly urbanized city faces many environmental and social problems due to extreme environmental pollution, dense population, unplanned settlements and a depleting vegetative cover. “The vegetative cover of Karachi is 7 percent, as determined using a GIS facility and satellite images taken in March 2007. Majority of this coverage is the canopy cover of trees planted in farmlands, streets, roads and residential areas,” he said.

Kerio revealed that the proposal, in which all these problems have been identified, will help the city achieve a 10-percent tree canopy cover and diversify tree species in Karachi. “The public will also be encouraged to participate in forest management so that attitudes towards urban trees and vegetation can be changed,” he said.

According to Kerio, the project will be completed over a period of ten years, at an estimated cost of Rs 10.3 billion. Elaborating the targets of the project, he said that primary goal is to plant 24 million seedlings, establish a network of nurseries and plant trees along 3,076 km of highways and roads, including 1,995 km of side strips and 931 km of median strips. Moreover, the plan suggests the establishment of 300 km of shelterbelts and 200 acres of block plantations, 2,000 acres of dry forestation, 4,500 acres of mini-forests and plantations along 2,975 km of Malir and Lyari riverbanks.

Depending on the width of the side and central strips of roads, various species, including neem, ficus, siris, rain tree, bouganvillea, peltophorum, lignum, melia azadirichta, nerium oleinder, cesalpenia, tecoma stans, techoma redican, will be planted in specific patterns to beautify the cityscape.

Kerio said that the overall quality of soil and the marginal water quality of the Malir River suited tree plantation, especially fruit orchids, palm oil and coconut plantations. Different plantation designs, such as block planting, linear planting, grove planting and scattered tree planting were suggested for different city areas, with species including neem, siris, rain tree, eucalyptus, babul, Gul mohar, amaltas, peltophorum, African tulip and Gul-e-nishtar.

He said that a survey of roundabouts showed that a total of 75 roundabouts in the city, of which only 18 have been decorated with structures, plants and lawns, while 35 are partially developed. The remaining 22 are completely undeveloped and barren.

He stressed the need to set up social forestry and initiate awareness and tree-planting campaigns with the help of the print and electronic media. He suggested that demonstration plots, training, workshops and meetings be held to expose the public to the importance of vegetation in the city. Giving details on water quality and suitability, Kerio revealed that only 50 percent of the city’s water can be used for forestation, while 22.5 percent is hazardous and 18.5 is marginal.

He proposed micro-irrigation techniques for areas on the National Highway, Super Highway and RCD Highway because of their remote location, but CDGK Parks and Horticulture Department Director Liaquat Ali Khan opposed the idea, highlighting the lack of safety measures protecting the open-air pipes and other necessary instruments. However, the city nazim approved the idea of micro-irrigation, guaranteeing the setting up of wells along major highways and directing officials to start work on sites identified by the consultant.

-Published in Daily Times | Sept 21, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on October 7, 2008.

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