Rapidly growing human population is mounting pressure on natural resources like forests. People are moving towards urbanised areas for better opportunities and lifestyle.The issue of urban human settlements is eliminating forest covers from lands thus disturbing the equilibrium of natural resources and human development. The lack of proper arrangements for waste management is also destroying beauty of cities. Air pollution is one of the important causes of many skin, eyes and respiratory diseases in metropolitan. The recent years have seen increased air pollution and global warming which is also due to vanishing forest cover and fast growing population. According to United Nations 25 percent land of a country must be covered by forests for sustainable growth.Pakistan is a country where rapid population growth and deforestation are big challenges. According to census held in 2017, the total population of Pakistan remained 207,774,520 till the end of June 2017, 57 percent increase in 19 years. This population explosion demands more residential areas, urban transport, and proper waste management mechanisms .It is also increasing carbon emission and causing deforestation. The pressure of population is resulting into expansion of cities, development of new housing colonies in major cities of Pakistan and increasing challenges like waste management. Islamabad used to be non-populated city but now, has expanded so much in last few years that residential areas are touching the boundaries of Rawalpindi. Pakistan is also facing looming dangers of climate change as it has been declared among top ten countries most affected by climate change. Since last two years, Lahore and Islamabad faced the severe issue of smog disturbing the lives of habitants of both cities. The main reasons for unsustainable cities in Pakistan are lack of proper urban planning, illegal housing societies, deforestation and poor waste management strategies. The forest cover in urban cities can have number of advantages. Forests absorb carbon, which can help in mitigating climate change effects in urban localities. These forests protect urban population from flooding, as they become barrier to floods. They provide food in form of fruits and vegetables to local urban population and source of various medicines. The greenery is source of beauty and nurtures healthy life a city. According to Food and Agriculture Organization strategic placement of trees in urban areas can cool air by up to 8 degree Celsius, reducing air conditioning needs by 30 percent. One of the important benefits of trees in urban area is that it decreases noise pollution and improves mental and physical health conditions of citizens. The fruit trees attract birds and other animals and promises healthy ecosystem and biodiversity.Pakistan is a country where rapid population growth and deforestation pose serious threats. According to the 2017 census, the total population of Pakistan remained 207,774,520 till the end of June 2017, a 57 percent increase in 19 years. This population explosion demands more residential areas, urban transport, and proper waste management mechanismsThe government of Pakistan took many initiatives to increase forest cover that includes Prime Minister’s Green Pakistan Programme that also includes forestation of urban areas. The newly approved Forest Policy also makes it compulsory to allocate budget for green areas in any development project. The idea of door-to-door plantation awareness campaign in Islamabad titled ‘#GharGharAikShajar’ which is under process of implementation. Under this campaign more than 100 volunteer students from different universities are going home to home in various sectors of Islamabad and spreading awareness messages and gifting plants. The aim is to reach 10,000 homes and 7000 are already covered. This campaign also goes with theme of this year’s International Forest Day ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ creating awareness among urban population. Similarly at private side some initiatives are taken for sustainable cities like Amazon mall in Rawalpindi will be first environmental friendly building in PakistanThere are number of other strategies which can be implemented to increase forest cover in urban localities for sustainable cities. We need to promote vertical forests in our cities. The creepers can be used on tall buildings, under passes and poles, to promote green culture. These green cover helps to absorb heat waves of sun and prohibits to reflect back them into space. The roof top garden and kitchen gardens can be made in houses having fewer spaces especially in big populated cities. Similarly new housing colonies must be strictly checked for having enough green areas before granting no objection certificates by Federal and Provincial Environmental Departments. If expansion of roads is included in master plans of cities and cutting of trees is necessity, then 100 more trees should be planted in advance to replace a single tree. This order has been issued by Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan to Capital development Authority in Pakistan. Similarly the environment friendly material should be used in construction of houses and buildings in big cities that absorb heat like paints etc.The sustainable cities are essential for healthy lives of citizen that is only possible through promoting green areas and forests in urban localities. The International Forest Day being celebrated on 21st March of every year to spread awareness among masses about importance of forests. This year theme ‘Forests and Sustainable Cities’ is important for awakening urban administrations and population as well.The writer is based in Islamabad and works on environmental issues. She can be reached at email@example.com.She tweets at @ZileHumma_1Published in Daily Times, March 20th 2018.