‘Green Emergency’ vital to combat environmental degradation

LAHORE  -  In a world grappling with environmental chal­lenges and global warm­ing, reforestation stands out as a powerful solu­tion that offers numerous benefits to combat cli­mate related hazards. 

By planting trees in ar­eas that have been de­forested or are devoid of forests, reforestation can unlock a range of posi­tive effects: from combat­ing climate change to fos­tering biodiversity, as it holds a key to a healthier planet and thriving com­munities. 

Climate change is one of the most pressing global issues, and reforestation plays a crucial role in mit­igating it. Trees are cham­pions in absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis — that’s why forests are called carbon sinks. 

By planting trees and restoring forests, it is possible to effectively se­quester carbon to reduce greenhouse gas emis­sions. Forests had a re­markable ability to reg­ulate local and regional climates. 

The shade provides by tree canopies helps re­duce temperatures, cre­ating a cooling effect in urban areas. Through evaporation, trees release water vapor into the air, further cooling the sur­rounding environment.

Reforested areas act as natural air-condition­ers, mitigating the urban heat island effect, which is a phenomenon where urban areas experience higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas.

Trees can reduce heat-re­lated stress and premature deaths during high tem­peratures and heat-waves. The World Health Organi­zation recorded that from 1998 to 2017, more than 166,000 people died due to heat-waves, with this risk increasing due to climate change.

By planting trees stra­tegically in urban set­tings, microclimates could be created that pro­vide respite from the heat and improve overall cli­mate resilience.

In an era of increas­ing air pollution, trees emerge as nature’s air purifiers. They absorb harmful pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sul­phur dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter, there­by improving air quality. Through photosynthesis, trees also release oxy­gen, which is vital for our wellbeing.

Reforestation efforts had the potential to com­bat respiratory health problems, such as asth­ma and other respiratory illnesses. According to the WHO, nine out of ten peo­ple worldwide breathe polluted air. This produc­es millions of preventable illnesses and deaths.

By increasing tree cov­er in urban areas and near industrial zones, we can create cleaner and healthier environments for communities.

Biodiversity is vital for all life on earth, and for­ests are vibrant ecosys­tems that support a wide array of plant and ani­mal species. Humans use at least 40,000 different species of plants and an­imals daily for food, shel­ter, clothing, and medici­nal needs. 

Reforestation plays a pivotal role in preserving and restoring biodiversity. By planting a diverse range of tree species, we create habitats for various plants, insects, birds, and mam­mals, fostering a balanced and resilient ecosystem. Researchers have discov­ered that up to 2.3 million living species can depend on a single tree!

Healthy soil is the foun­dation for sustainable ag­riculture and thriving eco­systems. Reforestation helps protect and restore soil health by preventing erosion and improving its structure. The extensive root systems of trees bind the soil, reducing the risk of landslides and soil degrada­tion. The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz-led Punjab government has initiated “Plant for Pakistan” cam­paign, considering the trees plantation vital to com­bat environmental degra­dation, smog destructions and other climate-related issues in Pakistan.

Almost all provin­cial departments includ­ing Civil Secretariat, For­est Department, Parks & Horticulture Authority, Lahore Development Au­thority, Water and Sanita­tion Agency and City Dis­trict Administration have also launched the cam­paign, following the di­rectives of the Punjab Chief Minister.

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