Massive tree-cutting


Currently, the entire country is gripped by an intense heatwave, which has raised concern about conserving green spaces to cool off the environment. Amid all this, the Cantonment Board Malir is rather cutting down hundreds of old trees in Karachi to clear the way for the Red Line Bus Rapid Transit project. The trees removed included native neem and the exotic Conocarpus, which were planted nearly two decades ago.

As of 2019, Sindh had already lost 50% of its forest cover. Even under the billion-tree tsunami project, only 601.96 million trees were planted, which was the lowest compared to other provinces. The absence of adequate forest cover is increasing the likelihood of climate-related emergencies and threatening people’s survival and livelihoods in Sindh. Considering Karachi’s deteriorating air quality, trees are crucial for absorbing carbon dioxide in the metropolis. With a decline in forest cover, air pollution may rise to an unprecedented level. It is worth mentioning that Karachi and Sindh are home to several endangered wildlife animals whose survival will now be threatened. The argument that new saplings can be planted in other areas of the city is redundant because the climate clock is ticking. Trees take years to mature; even the fast-growing Concarpus takes nearly ten years. Perhaps, the relevant departments should have undertaken the plantation activities before the project was due to begin.

Whilst the Red Line may serve as an affordable and efficient means of travel for the citizens, it will do so at a huge cost. Nonetheless, future encroachment and infrastructure projects that can potentially harm the environment should be avoided. Given that Sindh has recorded some of the highest temperatures in the last few days, the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency must take this as an opportunity to revisit its policies and strategies to protect the environment and curb the impact of climate change.

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