ISLAMABAD: The tree plantation campaign launched by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has inspired the federal government to start a “Grow Forests, Save Trees” campaign. There are reports that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the authorities concerned to plant 100 million trees every year. He expressed his concern at the Rs 20 billion losses that Pakistan was suffering every year due to the absence of forests. A senior official of the Ministry of Climate Change told Daily Times that Sharif directed the officials of the forests department at a meeting last month to increase the forest cover in the country on a war footing and plant 100 million saplings every year. The prime minister also approved the Grow Forests, Save Trees policy at the meeting. The official said the meeting was told that five years were needed to plant 100 million saplings. A feasibility report in this regard has yet to be prepared. He said the Public Sector Development Programme would provide 50 percent of the total expenses if provinces implement the grow forests, save trees policy. However, the official said, the provinces refused to implement this policy at a meeting in the first week of April. The provinces said that they would develop their own plantation campaigns instead of contributing 50 percent of the budget to federal government’s plantation campaign. The provinces said that they would implement federal government’s plantation campaign if the Public Sector Development Programme fully funds it at the provincial level. The administrators regions of FATA, GB and AJK said that they were not given a single rupee under the PSDP; therefore, they had no statistics about the forests and wildlife in the country. They said that 25 years old record was being used even today. According to statistics, Pakistan has a forest cover of 80 million hectare or 4 to 5 percent of the total area of the country. According to the UN, Pakistan has a forest cover of about two percent of its total area and forests are depleting at the rate of two percent every year. Absence of forests is directly linked to climate change. A fully-grown tree provides oxygen to 20 people. A three-year plan has been developed to increase the forest cover in Pakistan and this plan would cost Rs 60 million, the official said. He said that provinces’ cooperation was crucial in this regard. However, the provinces were of the view that climate change was federal government’s subject and the centre should not give them dictation in this regard. Global climate leaders and scientists say that forests can prevent floods for 72 hours and absence of forests is the reason for heat waves hitting the urban areas.