The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has decided to gift the people of Islamabad with a ‘Model Forestry Park’ in the Malpur area of the city. The project is set to be yet another addition to the long list tourist attractions in Islamabad, especially for nature lovers, since it will have plants, trees and a bird’s sanctuary for migratory birds. The idea behind building a forestry park in the capital city is essentially a two-pronged approach: Firstly, the authorities aim to provide a public space for recreation to citizens. Secondly, they want to reduce the encroachment on state-owned land.
Model Forestry Park Islamabad
The Model Forestry Park Islamabad will be the first of its kind urban forest park which will reportedly spread over 350 acres of land. The term ‘urban forest’ does seem like an oxymoron but it actually means management and maintenance of trees and plants within an urban setting for a better, healthier environment. This urban forestry, however, will initially have saplings of trees and bushes; a handful of old inhabitants of Malpur village will also live within its boundaries.
Location And Area Of Forestry Park
This urban forestry park, as mentioned above, will be set up in Malpur village of Islamabad, along the banks of Rawal Lake. Director Environment Regional Rana Tahir, who is also the project director for Model Forestry Park, said the park will be easily accessible from Murree Expressway, as quoted by a leading Pakistani newspaper. He also mentioned that once the project is completed, it will be a nice addition to Islamabad’s scenic beauty and will serve as a nice alternative to those who find it difficult to scale Margalla Hills.
Mr. Rana added the park will be home to different species of plants and trees, including Kachnar, Amaltas, Chir Pine, Weeping Willow, and Shisham. Different kinds of shrubs like Granda, Kanghar, Forest Flame, Timer and Butkhair will also be planted. He pointed out how some parts of the area are also covered with weeds, which will soon be removed.
Timeline For Park’s Development
According to Mr. Rana, the park will be fully developed in over the next five years in which 150,000 species of ingenious plants will be grown in addition to those already present. The newly planted trees will be about 2-feet tall and with proper care and maintenance, these will fully grow in five years. These plants will be watered using a tube and its installation is also in the plan.
Developing the park will also protect the state land from squatters who illegally acquire or possess the land. The CDA is already retrieving the illegally possessed land from the squatters and turning it into tree plantation sites. This is one similar project and the land has already been acquired by the authority for the desired purpose.
The five-year-long plan will cost around Rs. 1,164 million which will be spent on building nursery, planting and maintenance of trees, buying machinery and equipment among other overheads. Initially, a staff consisting of 73 people will be hired for management and care of the park and about 50 cameras will also be installed to monitor the security of people as well as plants.
Benefits Of Urban Forestry In Islamabad
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that Islamabad is Pakistan’s greenest urban city because it is home to the beautiful, green Margalla Hills and houses many parks. Currently, the CDA’s work for repairing, restoration and beautification of all big and small parks of Islamabad is underway. In the first phase of this project, development work in about 50 big parks has been completed. These green spaces not only beautify the city but also provide the public to enjoy nature and carry other activities in open space. Moreover, these are also home to different species of birds.
The development of urban forestry also has its benefits not just for the people but also for other living beings. Here is a list of benefits and advantages of this Model Forestry Park:
- 150,000 new plants will be added in the park that will further improve the quality of air in the city
- It will be a step closer to reaching the ultimate goal of planting 10 billion trees in Pakistan
- Public can enjoy a forest within the urban setting
- It will be home to more birds and produce a livelier feel
- A bird’s sanctuary will be built which is expected to welcome migratory birds flying from Siberia and other parts of the world. These birds land here for breeding and hatching purposes
- The addition of this park will have an impact on the climate and environment of the capital city
Urban Forestry And Climate Change
One of the benefits of trees and plants is that they use carbon dioxide from the air for photosynthesis and add more oxygen in the environment which is fundamental for human life. In an urban setting where water and air pollution are in abundance, trees play an important role in cleaning the air as well as water and reduce diseases borne by both.
Climate change is a serious concern for all countries. It can not be reversed but it can be slowed down. This is where planting more trees comes in. Deforestation and lack of plantation of new trees have increased greenhouse gasses that are heating up the earth’s atmosphere at an alarming rate. This has resulted in the melting of glaciers and extreme weather conditions.
A heatwave is a form of climate change in which excessively hot weather is recorded with higher humidity levels especially in countries closer to the oceans. The scorching heat can even lead to fatalities sometimes.
The only solution to this problem is sustainable living which includes using renewable energy resources which will reduce carbon emissions in the air and planting more trees that will lower the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Urban forests help cities tackle the effect of climate change, especially those pertaining to weather patterns. These forests help regulate the weather within a city and provide shade for direct sunlight to people travelling on foot.
Urban Forests, Integral Part of 10 Billion Trees Programme
The current government’s initiative to plant 10 billion trees across Pakistan was kicked off in September 2018 by Prime Minister Imran Khan. The objective of this campaign is to fight climate change and restore lost forests of Pakistan. The addition of every urban forestry park in any city will bring the government one step closer to their goal and the city will also enjoy its benefits.
In August 2020, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on climate change, Malik Amin Aslam, mentioned, “Without promoting urban forestry by involving communities, students, the corporate sector and other civil society organisations, the country’s various urban areas including Lahore, Karachi, Hyderabad, Multan, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Rawalpindi, will continue to remain increasingly vulnerable to various socio-economic, environmental and climate change-related problems.” That is how important urban forests and parks are for our environment and for achieving the set goal by the government.
A campaign to make Lahore greener was also started at the beginning of 2020. The plantation of urban forests was kicked off using the Miyawaki Method in which a forest that grows 10 times faster and 30 times thicker than commercial forestry.
Another project, hailed as the world’s largest urban forest in Karachi, was inaugurated in early 2020. There are other forests too like Ziarat Juniper Forest and Mangrove Forests in Pakistan that you can read about. For more pieces on forests in Pakistan and other tourism sites, check out our “Tourism” section.
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