Tree plantation campaigns would be headed by environmentalists and experts instead of officials or bureaucrats in future for better performance. This was stated by a senior official of the Punjab Forest Department while talking to APP, here on Friday. He said the Punjab government was continuously pursuing its ambitious plan of planting over trees across the province. The government would work on another plan to clear the river banks to ensure smooth flow of water and natural growth of trees, whose survival rate would be much more than those trees planted in isolation in different parts of the province. Giving details of a recent review meeting on the tree plantation campaigns, he revealed that billions of rupees had been spent on such campaigns. The official said that the relevant authorities ignored conducting an empirical study in past about availability of water for growth of trees, and later on groundwater had to be extracted for such plants, putting strain on already depleting reserves. The incumbent government has noticed that the previous government only focused on plantation of trees without giving attention to some important factors that were necessary for survival of the plants including water, light, nutrients and temperature. He said it is necessary to plant right tree at the right place and ensure quality over quantity. This approach may need more initial investment per tree, but it would result in larger-growing, healthier, long-living trees, which would provide environmental, social, and health benefits, he added. “It is also important to monitor and track survival and growth of trees, planted as part of campaigns; otherwise, it would not prove to be a fruitful exercise,” he said adding that unfortunately, it had happened in the past. He said the incumbent government was reviewing it at a fast pace and would come up with a better policy for planting more trees in the province,” added the official. Two non-governmental organisations, Al-Khidmat Foundation (AKF) and Milkar Pakistan, have launched a countrywide mega tree plantation drive from provincial metropolis, targeting plantation of 15 million trees across the country. In the first phase, 15,000 saplings would be planted in Lahore with the collaboration of Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) under the ‘Smog free Lahore’ programme. The first phase of the mega tree plantation drive was launched near Lahore airport on Wednesday, where Director General PHA Tahir Wattoo, President AKF Punjab Ikram-ul-Haq, Project Director MilKar Pakistan Kashf Shah, AKF Vice President Dr Mushtaq Mangat, heads of various universities, a large number of volunteers, students and people from different walks of life participated in the ceremony.