Pakistan sets Guinness record by planting 541,176 saplings

July 17th, 2009 - 5:55 pm ICT by IANS  

Islamabad, July 17 (IANS) Pakistan has made it to the Guinness Book of World Records by planting 541,176 saplings in one day to break the Indian record of 447,874 trees set on June 12.
Pakistan’s environment ministry arranged the plantation drive earlier this week as part of series of events being held to observe the National Year of Environment that is also aimed at developing forest resources through international competitions.

The plantation, which kicked off at sunrise, culminated at sunset as per the requirement of the Guinness Book of World Records. During this period, 300 planters, wearing green jackets, planted local species at Keti Bandar in Thatta district, some 150 km southeast of Karachi, an environment ministry statement said.

The event was monitored by Tahir Qureshi of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and independent monitor Marvi Memon, both of whom were nominated by Guinness, whose representative Adil Ahmed was also present on the occasion.

After the plantation drive culminated, Environment Minister Hamidullah Jan Afridi received a shield and certification from Guinness certifying the world record.

“The tree plantation drive is also in accordance with the government’s resolve to rehabilitate mangrove forests of Sindh by all means, in partnership with the provincial forest department, international and national NGOs and the private sector,” the statement said.

The environment ministry has initiated a Rs.13.5 billion forestry sector project in the four provinces, Pakistani Kashmir, the Northern Areas and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to increase the forest cover by one percent under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. One million hectares of land would be required to achieve this target.

“The fact also remains there that despite planting millions of saplings every year, the forest cover area is stagnant at 4.9 percent over the decades,” the statement said.

“The reasons for this are massive tree cutting and low survival rate of the saplings planted every year,” the statement said, adding that to save the forests and ensure better survival of saplings, the ministry is also reviewing its strategy at all tiers, raising awareness levels and involving all stakeholders.

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