STAFF REPORT ISB: Pakistan is a forest-deficient country and only 5.2 per cent of the area is covered with forests. Although millions of saplings have been planted in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad this year, the country is still far from achieving an optimal percentage of its land covered by forests.

“The sapling needs care which can be provided with water and fertilizers,” said a teacher at the Arid Agriculture Universitys Department of Environmental Science adding plantation is not about planting a sapling.

During spring season, 80,000 saplings have been planted on government owned land. “Every year, only 20 per cent of saplings planted by farmers die whereas 50 per cent of the saplings planted on government land die,” shared an official.

Rawalpindi division comprises of 552,000 acres of land. “Except Kotli Sattian and Murree, the areas are barren or are shrub forests,” said Muhammad Azam, an official at a nursery in Rawat, adding that Kotli Sattian and Murree consist of thick forests, with over 45,000 pine trees.

“The consumption rate is much higher than plantation,” he said, adding, “Last winter, we supplied 60,000 maunds of firewood to 11 union councils of Murree,” Rawalpindi Forest Circle Conservator Iftikhar Ahmed Qureshi said.

CDA claims it plants a million saplings of various species every year. These saplings are planted in the Margalla Hills National Park, urban areas, and the catchment area of Simly Dam.

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