Sindh: Neem trees Plantation
Below is an article published by: The News
The Sindh Forest Department has announced that indigenous Neem trees will be planted in the province this year, which will part of the Year of Environment activities. In this regard, the department is approaching private nurseries to ensure the provision of around one million saplings for urban centres. These saplings will be sold at a subsidised rate of Rs3.5 per sapling and will be planted in areas with reduced forest cover.
Riaz Ahmed Wagan, Forest Conservator, Makli, Thatta district told The News that the Neem tree seed is collected during the monsoon season (June and July). The Neem tree (Azadirachta indica), is also referred to as a ‘village pharmacy’, and can help cure various health problems, for example, bad teeth, ulcers and malaria.
“We will collect the seed in the forthcoming season and will be able to supply the same to urban centres, such as Karachi. These will then be planted in forest lands in January-February next year,” Wagan said.
He said it is completely up to the various departments where these saplings will be planted, and how many saplings would be required inside their premises. Wagan lauded the role of private nurseries that playing a key role in growing the Neem tree.
However, The News has learnt that several large organisations in the city do not plan to grow these trees at their places of work, despite the fact that President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, had already issues directives to the government departments to ensure that the Neem tree is planted as part of the tree plantation campaign 2009. Some organisations and town administrations have been given the cornocarpus plants by the City District Government Karachi (CDGK) for plantation which, some experts believe, is dangerous to human health and may cause asthma. According to experts, the CDGK horticulturdepartment has introduced several non-indigenous plants, such as the eucalyptus tree and cornocarpus, which has been detrimental to the well-being of native plants. In fact, now native trees cannot survive in the presence of the eucalyptus.
The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Marine Pollution Control chief, Yahya Usmani, said that the eucalyptus does not have commercial value, neither is it attractive to the birds. Usmani told The News that some non-indigenous mangrove plants along the seashore were introduced as well, but the KPT opposed it. “The KPT chairperson has formed a horticulture committee to determine which trees are suitable for our environment,” he said, adding that the committee is in favour of planting native trees and would take an active part in this year’s campaign.
Meanwhile, the Federal Minister for Environment, Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi, and the Federal Minister for Railway, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilor, have announced that saplings of native plants would be introduced along major railway tracks to increase forest cover in the country.
Afridi said that his ministry plans to plant 11 million saplings in a single day in an attempt to beat the world record in August, when the Year of Environment (2009) will be celebrated. He pointed out that the Environment Ministry will act as facilitator during the tree plantation campaign, while funds shall be provided by the private sector for the plantation drive. The ministry will look after the saplings for three years to ensure their survival.
The minister said that they have sought input from the provinces, international development organisations, environmental NGOs and the private sector to make this venture successful.