Its official! Guinness World Record certifies Pakistan now holds the record for most trees planted in a 24 hr. period.
The previous record was held by India which had planted 447,874 saplings in the same period. Pakistan surpassed the tally by planting 5,41,176 propagates of mangroves in the mudflats off Khedewari.
July 15 saw a flurry of activity in the coastal town of Keti Bunder which wore a festive look …. all geared up to greet the many visitors and media persons who had descended on this usually quiet coastal town to witness Pakistan’s attempt at entering the Guinness World Record.
Sindh Forest Department was entrusted with the responsibility of the event, and had arranged for the propagates of mangroves species, Rhizofora Mucronata. The species and site selection was done in consultation with IUCN’s Coastal ecosystem expert, Tahir Qureshi, who has earned a name for himself as the ‘father of mangroves’ due to the pioneering nature of his work in this field.
Coupled with the weather and tidal data provided by the IUCN team, all arrangements were finalized for the big day, July 15, which had been designated by the Ministry of Environment as the day for the attempt at entering the Guinness World Record.
The parameters within which the entire exercise had to be carried out stated that it had to be conducted within daylight hours and no artificial lighting could be used. The planting had to be done by a team of not more than 300 persons.
The Sindh Forest Department had been preparing for the event, and had trained the workforce belonging to the local community. The exercise started at 7 am, under the vigilant gaze of two independent witnesses, Ms. Marvi Memon, member National Assembly and Chairperson of the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, who had made a 2 am dash from Karachi to be on site well before day break, and Tahir Qureshi, Coastal Ecosystems Expert of IUCN, who had gone there the night before to be able to see the start of the proceedings.
The 300 workers were divided into teams of 15 each, and supervised by an official of the Sindh Forest Department. Federal Minister for Environment, Hameedullah Jan Afridi, Sindh Minister for Environment Askari Taqvi,and Sindh Minister for Population Welfare, Jam Mahtab Hussain Dahar, who belongs to the area, were present throughout the activity.
The enthusiasm of the workers allowed them to go past the existing Indian record just past mid-day, but this could not be considered official unless so declared by the Guinness World Records adjudicator, Aadil Ahmed, who had specially flown in from England for this purpose.
After examining the site where the saplings had been planted, and verifying the documentation process, just before sunset, he made the announcement, amidst loud cheer and thunderous applause, … that Pakistan was now the record holder for the most number of trees planted in a single day….something that will go a long way in raising awareness about the importance of mangroves to the coastal ecosystem.
The Ministry of Environment has set in place a system whereby for the next three years, the community will be involved in looking after the plants, with the help of the Sindh Forest department.