It is heart-warming to note that Lahore has finally decided to live up to its title of ‘The City of Gardens’ and give greenery a chance. Project titled ‘Afforestation in the City of Gardens’ is a result of the partnership between the Commissioner Office Lahore and the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) who have brought the civil society together for this. “So the Commissioner’s Office, Lahore and the LBF began this afforestation drive where the idea was to move away from beautification with a manicured look using imported plants towards wilder dense forests using indigenous trees. This is critical at a time when Lahore has lost 75 percent of its tree cover in the last 10 years. I work with the Lahore Conservation Society/Lahore Bachao Tehrik which is actively working on this project as the technical partner in this consortium of the government and civil society,” Attiya Noon says, while talking exclusively to Daily Times.The project aims to convert at least 10 percent of the land in Lahore into tree cover, planting approximately 8,311,689 trees. The initial phase of the project is spread across spring and monsoon seasons. During the spring season pilot projects and sites will be undertaken while the monsoon season will include the extension of invitation to other cities for region wide plantation drive. “We have been given land in several areas across Lahore from various government departments including PHA, railways, NHA etc and are working on parks in Johar Town, Sabzazar, Ring Road, Mian Mir Colony, etc,” Attiya Noon says.There are multiple benefits to a government-civil society partnership. While the government is able to provide the mass mobilisation and institutional knowledge, the civil society brings in the aesthetic and field expertise necessary for the efficient execution of the project. It is hoped that this project will serve as a blueprint for future, similar projects that can be replicated by other cities of the country. “We have had inaugural plantation drives already on the canal heritage park, a park in Johar Town that neighbours a school for special needs children. Next week we will be planting in nursery ground in main market with the World Wide Fund as a partner as well as on the Ring Road with go green as a partner who has brought in Descon as a sponsor on this Ring Road site,” Noon says.Over the next few months, the project will draft a manifesto followed by an invitation to other cities of Pakistan to join hands in this endeavour. This will be followed by inviting other countries of the region to join in by Spring 2020 in order to create a wider network. “The idea is to ensure all Lahoris understand the importance of this project and take ownership of it,” she said.The project aims to convert at least 10 percent of the land in Lahore into tree cover, planting over 8 million trees. The initial phase of the project is spread across the spring and monsoon seasons. During the spring season pilot projects and sites will be undertaken while the monsoon season will include the extension of invitation to other cities for region-wide plantation drivesIn terms of project outreach, all citizens of Lahore will be invited to contribute with their creative visions, donating plants, creating nurseries. With this, it is hoped that these individuals design spaces keeping in mind Lahore as the City of Gardens, its history while also granting them greater ownership of the city. Lahore is widely referred to as the “City of Gardens” and along with rich cultural history; it is home to many gardens that form part of its identity which the project hopes to revive. Afforestation activities will include sowing of selective indigenous species of plants.“One of the most challenging things about this project is, ironically, the supply of indigenous saplings which are in short supply due to the country drive. We have an urgent and great need for nurseries to meet this demand in the years to come,” she maintained. While a majority of the sites granted by the Lahore Administration and Commissioner Office are large, sprawling urban centres along highways or open parks, this initiative will not ignore the vital role played by smaller parks in Lahore.Some of the names of the trees being planted are Acacia Nilotica, Bauhinia Alba, Callestemon Viminalis, Dilbergia Sisso, Ficus Religiosa, Jacaranda, Olifolia, Melia Adadrach, Pinus Roxburghi, Milletia Pinnata, Sappindus Mukaroosi, Tamarind and Zizyphus Mauratania.