The hills of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are green once more, thanks to a massive reforestation effort by the Pakistan government called the Billion Tree Tsunami.
The South Asian country hit its billion-tree goal in August 2017, well ahead of schedule, and is now seeing the fruit of that labor in more than 350,000 hectares of saplings produced both by planting and natural regeneration, World Economic Forum reports.
“The project is naturally restoring a previously deforested landscape, which will assist in meeting present and future needs and offers multiple benefits for climate adaptation and mitigation in a very climate-vulnerable province,” said Muhammad Tehmasip, project director of the Billion Tree Tsunami, in an earlier interview with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had previously lost large swaths of forest to decades of felling, which made it vulnerable to flooding and landslides, noted the World Economic Forum report. In 2016, when flash floods hit the province, dozens of people were killed.
Imran Khan, a cricket star-turned-politician, led the Billion Tree Tsunami effort in the province, where his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party governs.
The Billion Tree Tsunami not only made good on a previous pledge to the Bonn Challenge — an initiative launched by IUCN to “restore 150 million hectares of degraded and deforested land worldwide by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030” — but also generated jobs at local tree nurseries, according to the World Economic Forum report.
All of this bodes well for Pakistan, which was named one of the six countries most likely to be impacted by climate change by the United Nations in 2017.