ISLAMABAD: A renowned environmental communication expert Saleem Sheikh has said that the purpose of celebrating ‘Earth Day’ every year is in fact to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion and motivate people for action for protecting earth from the human induced damage. He was speaking to Daily Times regarding the celebrations of Earth Day, which is marked every year on April 22nd. He said that the day was first celebrated in 1970 and is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network and celebrated in more than 193 countries each year including Pakistan. The day was held to demonstrate support for environmental protection for sustainability of earth. Sheikh said that controlling all sorts of pollution, planting more and more trees, conserving water at domestic, agriculture and industrial levels, reducing energy and food wastage are vital to sustainability of earth and the life on it. He said that to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion and motivate people to action, planting trees and promoting water conservation and efficient uses of these and other numerous natural resources are best way to save earth and its resources from their unsustainable use by all of us. He further said that to achieve sustainability of earth and enable it to sustain diversity of the life on it, we must strive collectively and individually to bring positive changes in our food production, consumption and overall lifestyle adding that like in many other countries, earth in Pakistan is grappled with a range of dangers including land erosion, landslides, earthquakes, torrential rains, glacial melting, floods and river erosion and soaring deforestation has exacerbated the problems. Shaikh said that the increased use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, discharge of untreated sewage and industrial effluents and unsustainable and intensive use of agricultural practices pose serious risk to the fertility of earth in Pakistan. He referred to a report of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the net area under crop cultivation in the country has been declined by 1.1 million hectares from to 22.3 million hectares to 21.2 million hectares because of water shortage, groundwater pollution and water logging and salinity during 2002 to 2009.Out of the 80 million hectares of the country’s total land mass, nearly four million hectares are under forests but forest cover is shrinking by 40,000 hectares annually in Pakistan. If deforestation at such a pace continues, then the country could be without any forest in few decades and this would surely exacerbate problems for sustainability of earth. This would not only increase the woes of land erosion, landslides and earthquakes but also deprive the country of nutrient-rich topsoil on earth in the country. As a result, food production system can be at stake and increase the number of hungry people. However, increasing area under forests is equally of unprecedented significance to the sustainability of earth.