The Bonn Challenge is a global effort to bring 150 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is the first sub-national entity to register with the Bonn Challenge for the restoration of forest in KP, and it is also the first entity in the world to complete the challenge and that too in half the planned time.
“This was achieved due to the highest commitment and dedication shown by the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said experts today at a ceremony held in Islamabad where IUCN handed over the Acceptance letter to KP government.
Mr. Imran Khan, Chairman PTI, highlighted the diversity in Pakistan, terming the country the most uniquely gifted in the world with beautiful landscapes and terrains. He added that considering the melting of glaciers, rise of temperature, it was just about time to reverse this situation through restoration of forest in Pakistan. He appreciated all the team of KP government for making it possible. “It happened when most of the industry was closed in the province due to the war on terror, hence the financial position was not too good,” he added.
“Chief Minister KP was under severe pressure, but he still managed to take out the budget in such a difficult situation and allocated to KP forest department,” Mr. Khan explained. He appreciated Secretary Forest KP who strongly faced the timber mafia and in doing so it also resulted in the death of five of the forest department staff. The success was due to the joining of hands between the department and the people of KP. People raised nurseries, and guarded the saplings where locals were hired as guards for the enclosures, he informed.
Chairman PTI expressed the interest of KP government in promoting tourism in Pakistan especially “eco-tourism in the most beautiful valleys of KP province to promote income generating opportunities for local communities. Mr. Khan highlighted that “because of such efforts the world has acknowledged these achievements today”. Global organizations like IUCN, WWF and the Bonn Challenge have acknowledged this remarkable success by KP Government, he noted.
Upon the completion of the Bonn Challenge pledge of KP Government, President of IUCN, Mr. Zhang Xinsheng in his special video message congratulated KP government for becoming the first entity at the Bonn Challenge by restoring 350,000 hectares of forest. He termed the Billion Tree Tsunami as the first successful model of forest restoration with community involvement, generation of green jobs, backed up by strong political commitment. “This certainly places Pakistan in the leading position for forest restoration worldwide,” Mr. Zhang added.
Mr. Pervez Khattak, Chief Minister KP shared the efforts made in taking this unbelievable challenge upon the encouragement of Chairman PTI. He gave credit to chairman PTI for always giving unbelievable challenges to his team and KP government and never letting them stop. “Involving community in nursery-raising was an important step taken to reach this achievement. Once the KP forest department was heavily influenced by the timber mafia, wood smuggling; but we overcame these hurdles with great efforts and huge risks, he said. He especially thanked Malik Amin Aslam for his experience and wisdom that made it successful. He especially thanked IUCN for the great acknowledgement globally.
Malik Amin Aslam, Global Vice President of IUCN and Incharge of the Green Growth Programme of KP being the architect of the Billion Tree Tsunami initiative reflected upon the impossible dream, in line with PTI Chairman’s advice to his team.
He shared the acknowledgement made by Ms.Inger Anderson, Director General IUCN, who termed this “as a true conservation success story of Pakistan”. He said that IUCN had termed this the largest eco-investment in the history of Pakistan. He shared achievements of the project and congratulated the team of KP Forest department.
He shared that the environment agenda had become a financial priority at the provincial level, with zero tolerance for timber mafia, and focus on protecting existing forests, maintaining transparency and people centric. He shared that the initial budget of the Billion Tree Tsunami Project was PKR 22 billion but the target was achieved in PKR 14 billion, only because of the transparency maintained.
Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, Secretary Forest KP stated that “KP in spite of serious financial constraints made this possible in only 3 years”. He invited everyone internationally to visit the plantations in KP. He shared that WWF through the independent monitoring report has reported 85% survival rate of the plantations done.
Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan shared that Mr. Zhang President of IUCN came to Pakistan for launching of KP government’s pledge for the Bonn Challenge in June 2015. He shared that “this is the first target of the Bonn challenge that has been achieved in the Bonn Challenge at the global level and in half the time committed.” He congratulated Chief Minister KP for the creation of green jobs in KP. He added that “this success could not be possible without the initiative and drive shown by Malik Amin Aslam.” He emphasized that the global recognition of Pakistan is due to the persistence of the political commitment, and the hard work and commitment of KP Government. “IUCN congratulates the KP government and will continue to provide support.”
The Bonn Challenge is a joint effort of Environment department of Germany and IUCN. Underlying the Bonn Challenge is the forest landscape restoration (FLR) approach, which aims to restore ecological integrity at the same time as improving human well-being through multifunctional landscapes. The Bonn Challenge is not a new global commitment but rather a practical means of realizing many existing international commitments, including the CBD Aichi Target 15, the UNFCCC REDD+ goal, and the Rio+20 land degradation neutrality goal. It is an implementation vehicle for national priorities such as water and food security and rural development while contributing to the achievement of international climate change, biodiversity and land degradation commitments.
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