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GREENING OF PAKISTAN'S COUNTRYSIDE
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Through motorways/highways plantation
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By Rashid M. Randhawa
Aug 30 - Sep 05, 2004
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Until recently, environmental issues along Highways and Motorways which are conventional arteries linking northern section of the country with the southern, did not figure as a potential problem, impairing the present and future generations both in the rural and urban areas. Today, they occupy a prominent place in NHA's policy Planning Agenda and are perceived as an integral part of broader dynamics of economic growth and social advancement. In a classical community development theory, greening of landscape otherwise lying un-productive is essential not only for the liquidation of ugly slums but also for the improvement of rural-urban relationship. Once established, these green belts/spots will become areas of outstanding beauty and cultural heritage which will provide important habitat for a variety of mammals, birds and reptiles characteristics of the arid sub-tropics of South Asia.

In the past, planting of trees for comfort and shade was regarded as an act of piety and benevolence by the Muslim Rulers. Who can forget the magnificent Chinar avenues of Parachinar and poplars of Abbottabad, and Swat in real blossom.? A place is enchanting not just because it has modern multi million rupees highways but because it has trees and blossoms carefully planned as part of the general architect.

The mad rush of urbanization and construction of fabulous buildings and highways, have deprived the common man of the beauty of nature. No doubt the construction of more and more roads will make places of beauty accessible for the lovers of nature and tourists but to what avail if they have to drive through verdure-less dreary monotony of tarmac. The best way to keep contact with nature is to drive through green belts along our highways/motorways and keep our soul energized with enchanting beauty of nature, which trees alone possess.

Creation of plantation along highways/motorways is a difficult and complicated task. It not only requires a complete knowledge of local conditions, Silviculture of species, their behavior under different climatic conditions and techniques of their raising but also an extreme sense of proportion and an artistic eye. The search of a methodology for the greening of country's landscape will therefore, has to be based on an understanding of the complex interaction between the man and his shrouding environment.

The greening of highways and motorways will focus on the following:

i) Protection of metalled road surface from sudden and extreme exposures to heat and cold so as to prolong the life of the highways/motorways, reduces its maintenance cost and provide better surface for the vehicles.

ii) Protection of road berms by shady trees. They will make them more stable by keeping moist due to drop in evaporation losses and reduction of dust.

iii) Provide comfortable travelling to millions on move on our highways/motorways and protect them from scorching summer winds.

iv) They will screen off ugly and undesirable views along the Highways/Motorways and improve the aesthetic value of the landscape.

 

 

v) Provide camouflage for deployment of the troops in the event of a national emergency against possible attacks by the hostile air crafts.

vi) Beautiful avenues, would help to increase the value of the adjoining property and attract permanent residents from far flung areas.

vii) Shapely avenues should tend to accentuate the curves on Highway/Motorways and relieve the travellers of the boredom and monotony of bare road travelling.

viii) Shady avenues should provide attraction for the pedestrians and animals reducing the hazard of accidents.

ix) The Highways/Motorways plantations on maturity will provide timber and firewood which shall add to the economic benefit accruing from other wise waste lands.

RASHID MAHMOOD RANDHAWA

Mr. Randhawa is currently working as Consultant (Afforestation) with National Highway Authority to organize NHA massive Tree Plantation programme along National Highways and Motorways covering about Nine Thousand (9000) kilometers. He has over 43 years of experience in the fields of Forestry, Environment, Urban Landscape development and maintenance. Mr. Randhawa has worked in progressively important positions like Director General (Environment) CDA, Chief Conservative Forest (Punjab) and General Manager (Afforestation) NHA. He acquired professional experience, qualifications and completed advance training courses from US, Japan China and other countries.