Climate Change: How Tree Plantation Can Help Pakistan?

As time passes by, we see things changing around us in form of weather, animals, plants, and our land. Our mother earth is changing significantly due to the global climate change. Glaciers are shrinking, sea ice is breaking, sea levels are rising, plants and animal ranges are shifting and summers get intense every year. Climate change and the change in temperatures is normal and has been observed earlier, but the current pace at which the global temperatures are rising worry scientists.

Scientists are concerned that the rapid fluctuation or variation in the temperature is human induced warming that is causing fast changes in the climate. Intense deforestation and the heat generated by industries and other human actions are instigating a rise in the global warming. Scientists, in search of a solution to suppress this high concentration of carbon dioxide being released in the environment, have found plantation of trees as an important factor in climate change.

Trees are a source of life. Not only with regard to natural ecosystems, but also for the survival of the human beings. Their use to feed, heat and build endless objects is an exploitation that, among other factors, trigger deforestation and, with it, the destruction of the habitat. Deforestation is a major factor in the rise of global warming and climate change. Pakistan in the past decade has carried out mass deforestation for infrastructural development. The construction of transportation services and huge roads has led to a huge decrease in the number of trees around the country. This human activity has caused a rise in the temperature and the increase the time of the summer season.

Owing to urbanization, the public and the private sector are busy constructing new societies and roads by cutting down more vegetation every day. While we dedicate ourselves to desolate natural lands for our mega constructions, the trees are key to avoid erosion. And not only that, they are fundamental in the regulation of the toxic levels of the air and the production of oxygen through photosynthesis. In addition to being the habitat of numerous species, playing a fundamental role also in the conservation of biodiversity.

The Importance of Trees for Nature

Photosynthesis is the process through which trees produce their food by absorbing carbon dioxide from the environment and releasing back oxygen in return. This process is an effective way to slow down the climate change and fight against global warming. Deforestation implies an increase in the greenhouse gases. Not only because many of these chopped trees decompose and release much of the CO2 they absorbed, but also because their industrial transformation sets in motion a production chain that also multiplies pollution. It is estimated that a fifth of the emissions of greenhouse gases are the result of deforestation in different areas of Asia and other regions.

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According to ecologists, the level of rainfall falls with more deforestation. Trees along with their countless benefits are a major reason of rainfall. A significant percentage of rainfall received is due to evapotranspiration which is the evaporation of water from the upper parts of trees. Pakistan is gradually facing a lack of rainfall in most of its southern regions. Five districts in Sindh have been declared as drought stricken by the government and major areas of Balochistan and KPK are also facing a grave issue of water. More trees are a source of frequent rainfall, which makes it a necessity to plant more trees in the country.

The Importance of Trees in the Ecosystem

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In addition to the deforestation caused by the industry, trees suffer the constant threat of agriculture and the loss of water resources. Their disappearance entails the reduction of habitat, which is a serious blow to biodiversity, putting numerous species on the ropes. The constant loss of habitats due to deforestation has led scientists to consider the planet a hostile environment that is heading towards the sixth mass extinction.

According to ecologists, human activity is causing a disappearance of species ten times faster than we thought. Or, if you like, a thousand times more than they did in the origins of the human being, when it was not quiet either, precisely. There are many studies that speak of a massive extinction that threatens human existence, and all agree that, along with climate change, the loss of habitat is one of its main causes. Both problems are associated with the constant loss of forest mass.

Just to get an idea, the life that thrives in the arboreal ecosystems, in only one hectare of tropical forest there may be around 500 species of plants and, for example, it has been found that in a single tree there are 43 species of ants. In regard to terrestrial plants and animals, 90 percent of them find refuge in the trees or in their surroundings. And the birds have almost no chance of survival without trees. This loss to the ecosystem causes a huge loss to the climate in the long run. These species that are a part of the ecosystem are basically the components running the ecosystem. A study shows that the mass killing of the blue whale increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the environment, hence triggering a rise in the global warming and climate change.

In short, deforestation and extinction run in pairs, and most of the species that suffer an increasing risk of extinction are found in areas that have also received a strong setback. In a city like Islamabad which was known for its trees and vegetation, the inhabitants now miss the beautiful species of magnolia flowers and the butterflies hovering over them. Due to the cutting down of forests, wild boars that are an endangered species can be seen roaming around on the roads of Islamabad rather than in their natural habitat.

Again, the same scenario: habitat reduction involving decapitated trees and dying animal species. Without them, the world’s biodiversity would plummet that is helping to regulate the world’s water cycle and prevent erosion and retain soil moisture. All living beings on the planet should join forces in our struggle to protect the planet on which we depend. And in that, the trees are doing a much better job than that of humanity.

The Importance of Trees for Human Beings

Life as we know begins with plants. It was when aerobic photosynthesis occurred around 3,500 million years ago that the atmosphere began to oxygenate. Apart from the immediate utilities that we obtain from trees, their existence is key to our survival, as well as to countless living beings. In numbers, trees are necessary for the survival of nine out of ten of the known species, and the percentage would probably increase if we go beyond the habitat and focus on the production of oxygen.

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Trees, help us breathe. Only seaweed and other marine plants make about 70 percent of the vegetation, but the trees are decisive for the atmosphere to be breathable by humans. Only one tree can produce enough oxygen for 18 people, although it varies greatly depending on species and sizes. Together with the rest of the plants, trees are responsible for a fifth of the planet’s oxygen. It won’t be wrong if we call them lungs of the planet due to their important role in the carbon cycle. Acting as gigantic carbon sinks, as the ocean does, afforestation slows down global warming.

Recently European Union has declared itself determined to avoid emissions derived from deforestation. The EU proposal consists in compensating the emissions of gases that come from agricultural activity with the planting of forests in depopulated areas. This new regulation intends to enter into force as of the year 2021, adding to the climatic objectives of the Paris Agreement: reducing by 2030 emissions by 40% compared to 1990. Pakistan being a signatory to The Paris Agreement needs to act on its objectives and plant more trees for the betterment of the environment. Pakistan has to play its part in the slowing down of climate change by planting more trees in every region.

Shifa Foundation being a dedicated non-profit organization is contributing to the environmental cause by organizing plantation drives in the capital. Shifa Foundation has till date organized four tree plantation drives in Islamabad and has planted a large number of trees around the city. All these benefits of trees are long term benefits to the global climate. Countries might be divided by borders and lines but the distribution of oxygen and rains is not divided. Every country and individual has to work together to achieve a healthy environment for the world and slow down the climate change.

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