Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to involve the provincial education department in the Billion Tree Tsunami project, under which 4 million students to plant 40 million saplings within the next 3 years.

In this regard, the Department of Forestry and Education has signed an MoU a few days ago, which states that this special campaign will begin on February 20, 2020 and will be continued till June 2023. Experts, however, said that instead of increasing the number of plantation on paper and wasting students time, Government should train students how to grow and look-after trees.

Spokesman for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) education department, Karamat, said that under the agreement with the forest department, every student studying in public educational institutions would not only plant 10 saplings but also look-after them. He added that saplings will be provided to them by the KP forest department.

The Education department believes that it is a healthy activity and would not waste the students time as criticised by some circles.

He added it would give them the opportunity to participate in a healthy activity while some students are also fond of doing the work. Karamat added that the relevant teachers of each school will guide students in this regard to ensure planting.

This is part of the MoU Billion Tree Tsunami project, which will include students from all over the province, a Forestry Department official said. The official said that students would be obliged to plant these plants at their educational institutions and places where they could care for them. He said that the students could not plant these plants in the house, for which a separate scheme is started which the common people can plant in the houses and fields.

He said that the plants which will be given to the students include white, Sheesham, Eucalyptus, pulai and mulberry trees, besides guava and Loquat etc. He said that the purpose of incorporating the education department in the project is to raise awareness among the students regarding plantation and climate change so that they too can plant and play their role. “It’s a social work for students, where they can volunteer to plant, which is a healthy and environmentally friendly activity,” he said.

Professor Akmal, agronomy professor at the Agricultural University of Peshawar said that there is a need to train students on how to look after plants and tell them which plants and trees are best for our country and season. He said, for example, if palm trees are planted on the motorway, it will have no benefit because the palm tree is alien to our country and would not grow here.

He said: “If the forest officials inform the students which plant is best for which area, where can they get better grow? How to plant them and then take care of them, the results will be better than just increasing the number.”

“if anyone wants to plant eucalyptus tree in Pakistan, I say that it will harm the environment rather than benefiting it because these trees absorb too much water and also damage the land,” said Akmal. Professor Akmal said that only those plants should be planted which are suitable for our climate. “If the students are given proper trainings and right tree saplings are selected, then it can greatly benefit the environment.”

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