Love is intoxicating but when taken to blind excess, it can become toxic. Trendy or errant environmentalism also fall in the same category. Here are some interesting facts. Environment as a proper and authentic cause of concern — for humanity at large — emerged soon after Rio Earth summit in 1992. And that, broadly speaking, was also the time when a whole league of conscientious activists, across the globe, took it upon themselves to preserve and further; the noble cause of environment for protecting future of Mother Earth. In the case of Pakistan, although Environmental Protection Ordinance came in 1983, it was not until 1997, that any proper legislation) on environment as well as an institutional edifice was put in place. Charge of the (environmental) light brigade in Pakistan, can also be traced back to late nineties and early years post 2000, when civil society and activists took it upon themselves to champion the noble cause of environment and climate change in Pakistan. Now compare these events with the fact that the Imperial Forest Department was established in British India during 1867, (eighteen years and ten years after demise of Sikh and Mughal rules, respectively). Here is what it implies. When foresters, anywhere in Pakistan talk about environmental issues, they are coming from a historical context and wisdom, spanning almost 150 years. But near always in Pakistan, voice of this quaint, sagacious, unassuming forest practitioner is summarily silenced by alluring, articulate and must-needs-be politically-correct pronouncements from environmental activists, aka “the Green”. That our forester is eccentric, one must admit. But they have valid, sound reasons, informed by centuries of practitioner’s expertise for his eccentricities. First whiff of smoke over Margalla hills or for that matter anywhere in hill forests makes “conscientious Green” shout from rooftops about criminal apathy of concerned agencies, for letting these virgin forests burn to ashes. The forester however, would be sitting snug and calm near his forest fire watch tower, enjoying a hot cup of tea carrying the aura of jungle wood — not because of apathy, but because his scientific, practical knowledge tells that “ground fire” in summers is a blessing for his jungles. Near best articulation of the principle of “survival of the fittest” as healthy saplings are spared by forest fire; weaklings are burnt and removed while thick foliage (likely cause of forest pests)on forest floor is transformed in richest source of nutrition to support life for the next whole season in his jungles. The ‘green’ of Pakistan is doing a laudable job at articulating environmental and climate change concerns in Pakistan. But in all fairness, they should be ready to listen to the “somewhat uncouth” practitioner — including the forester who is the custodian of centuries’ old lore about Mother Nature and the wild Or take the case of tree felling. Jungle felling is a scientific component of forest management practice where a balance in the overall age of a forest is achieved through selected removal of mature and over mature trees. Removing overage trees in a jungle is vital for minimizing chances of diseases ( hundreds of blue pine trees in Murree’s Patriata jungles were lost due to a disease spread through decaying wood ) and allowing newborn ( baby trees ) much needed sunlight for growing up. Arbitrary banning of tree felling anywhere in Pakistan during nineties actually meant that tens of thousands of new saplings annually were denied sunlight and open spaces to grow, for years on end leading to their death in infancy. But no forester can dare annoy “The Green” who would go for his head, dubbing him cohort of timber mafia, should he even slightly raise the issue of allowing “sanitary felling in jungles”. And now, let me commit the gravest and most heinous of the “green sins” — by trying to clarify forester’s viewpoint on eucalptus planting in Pakistan; another no-go area, pronounced by “The Green” of our country. Leaving aside the northern hills in parts of our country, growing trees in the bulk of Punjab, Sindh and southern parts of KP provinces is actually a messy, expensive enterprise. Planting trees is perhaps a simple task, both in terms of costs as well as efforts — but not the aftercare which should ensure protection from grazing, beating back the failure and watering for at least five years, if you want to see a decent majority of newly planted saplings change in trees. The traditional trees of Sindh and Punjab alike Babul, Kikar, Shisham, Neem and others were definitely the best choice for multiple reasons until recent years but not anymore unfortunately. And hence the proclivity of foresters to have recourse to likes of Eucalyptus. In the past, centuries’ old practice of “Forest Management Plans” was in vogue, ensuring automatic resource allocation for newly planted forest areas for at least ten years after afforestation. These days, tree planting is treated by government like, say, road construction project as funding is given for hardly a year or two for aftercare of new plantation. Irrigation water or flood waters which sustained forestry operations in Punjab and Sindh are reduced by at least two thirds, leading to drying up of tree plantations. The population of livestock has also grown manifold, resulting in immense grazing damage to young trees. Hardy trees like Eucalyptus need minimal aftercare; survive both water-logged and saline soils; are least susceptible to grazing; do huge carbon fixation or sequestering — and most importantly, provide easy, ready cash to farmers in 3 to 4 years, over several rotations. Unending rows of Eucalyptus plantations in districts of Khushab, Bhakkar, Attock or Swabi seen today are definitely not shenanigans of foresters- these have been grown by wise, sagacious and willing farmers and landlords. The ‘green’ of Pakistan is doing a laudable job at articulating environmental and climate change concerns in Pakistan. But in all fairness, they should be ready to listen to the “somewhat uncouth” practitioner — including the forester who is the custodian of centuries’ old lore about Mother Nature and the wild. The writer is a retired officer from Pakistan Administrative Services and an ex-forester Published in Daily Times, October 12th 2018.