This year’s World Environment Day is being celebrated under the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration”. The ecosystem restoration is based on various contours: Growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts. It means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as protecting the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems, with comfortable biodiversity, produces greater benefits such as more fertile lands, more timber and fish production or natural food stocks, further paving the way of green revolution.
Launching hallmark initiatives to promote the restoration of ecosystem on real grounds, Pakistan is hosting the World Environment Day of this year, given its huge focus on restoring the natural ecosystem, the one conducive to human life. The Pakistan’s Government also envisions to restore and augment the country’s forests through 10 Billion Tree Tsunami spread project will be completed over five years. It covers restoring mangroves in marine environment and forests in the heartland in general, as well as planting trees in urban settings; schools, colleges, public parks and other green belts in particular. As the UN has announced this decade for ‘ecosystem restoration’, nations are assuring to bring 350 million hectares of the world’s deforested and degraded land into restoration. This time frame also correspondents with the deadline of attaining the UN-led Sustainable Development Goals.
To visualize the high value and the critical manifestation the Environment Day entails, Pakistan Navy conducts a range of activities, highlighting environment as the basic underpinning of elements of national power, awakening common public along with other major agencies, departments, and main stake-holders. In particular, the littoral areas of Pakistan are core focus of Pakistan Navy to make them more resistant to the environment degradation. Pakistan Navy being a major stakeholder has already taken commendable initiatives and yet again this year Pakistan Navy is determined to celebrate the day with full zeal and fervor. Pakistan Navy has launched various initiatives, such as trees and mangroves plantation campaign, banned use of polythene bags in naval premises, collection of solid waste in harbors and installation of reed bed reverse osmosis plants for sewerage water treatment in residential areas. In addition, relevant government and non-government organizations are also sensitized and their co-operation solicited in undertaking these environment protection measures. Furthermore, taking a lead from Federal Government’s Green initiatives (GI), Pakistan Navy annual tree plantation campaign has been a leap forward in preserving environment. Annual tree Plantation campaign includes mangrove plantation campaign in coastal and creeks areas, reviving of forests in Margallah hills and nourishment of green belts under various seasonal drives and ‘Sur Subz’ initiatives.
Notwithstanding, the sheer richness of biodiversity also has human benefits. Many new medicines are harvested from nature, such as a fungi that grows on the fur of sloths and can fight cancer. Wild varieties of domesticated animals and crops are also crucial as some will have already solved the challenge of, for example, coping with drought or salty soils. Likewise, if money is a measure, the services provided by ecosystems are estimated to be worth trillions of dollars, double the world’s GDP.
The reality would always remain that the air we breathe to the food we eat all rely on ecosystems. If undamaged, this produces a finely balanced, healthy system which contributes to a healthy sustainable planet. In a nutshell, moreover, the emergence of COVID-19, impacting severely the South Asian region, have underscored the fact that when we destroy ecosystem we destroy the system that supports human life. Given these circumstances, it is pertinent to highlight and address the issue of ecosystem degradation and its impact on our lives.
(Written by Naveed Mushtaq)