1bn trees planted in Pakistan in a bid to slow the effects of climate change

After decades of deforestation, a province in Pakistan has planted 1bn trees in two years

The last tree in Pakistan’s Billion Tree Tsunami project has been planted.

Completed earlier this month, the project in the north-west province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa saw 1bn trees planted in two years.

The project is the brainchild of cricket star turned politician Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, who wanted to restore the province’s forests after decades of widespread felling. A lack of forest cover had left the region increasingly vulnerable to flooding and landslides. In April 2016, heavy rain led to flash floods which killed at least 71 people.

The reason glaciers are melting in the mountains is because there has been massive deforestation

“We have discovered that if you plant trees by the river banks it sustains the rivers,” said Khan.

As trees absorb carbon dioxide – a major greenhouse gas – from the atmosphere, it is hoped that the project will also help to slow down climate change. Pakistan is considered particularly vulnerable to the increased risk of natural disasters: the 2017 Global Climate Risk Index ranked it in the top 10 countries most likely to be affected by long-term changes.

“One of the biggest reasons glaciers are melting in the mountains is because there has been massive deforestation,” said Khan. “So, this billion trees project is very significant for our future.”

The success of the Billion Tree Tsunami, which was completed four months ahead of schedule, means the idea is set to be replicated across the country.

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