The timber mafia has a very systematic method to chop down these trees and then transport its wood from one place to another which is being traded for millions of rupees. These views were expressed by Professor Dr Zafar Iqbal Shams of the Institute of Environmental Studies University of Karachi (KU) while addressing a seminar held on the occasion of World Environment Day.

The event was held at the Chemistry Auditorium on Friday. The departments of chemistry, education, and botany of the University of Karachi jointly organized the seminar and later held a plantation activity and a poster competition for students at the department of botany.

The timber mafia is minting millions of rupees from the trees of eucalyptus and Conocarpus in the country. The timber mafia has been making a lot of money by cutting these trees for the past many years. Earlier, they were after eucalyptus trees only but during the last couple of decades, the Conocarpus trees were also benefitting them.

Trees reduce the urban heat effect and also reduce ozone formation in the troposphere besides providing shade during hot summer days and help in reducing urban noise pollution as well.

He informed the audience that the timber mafia has been relentlessly cutting down but unfortunately no serious action has been taken against them yet. He said that like other plants these two trees also absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen and do not have any adverse effects on the environment.

According to him, eucalyptus and conocarpus absorb more water as compared to other trees as they grow faster than other trees. Professor Dr Zafar Iqbal warned that if deforestation continues like this then we may face severe environmental problems.

“One of the major reasons for the rapid temperature rise is the relentless deforestation. We should focus on planting different types of plants instead of the same type of plants as plantation of one type of trees could be dangerous, as diseases can rapidly affect all of them, whereas if we have a variety of plants available, then it will take some time to damage them.”

Another speaker, Dr Hina Baig from the National Institute of Oceanography said that we are working for the elimination of marine pollution and we all need to work together for the elimination of marine pollution and protection of aquatic life.

“Every year millions of aquatic lives die due to dumping of garbage. There is a need to raise public awareness in this regard. People need to understand how much damage is done to the garbage thrown into the sea.”

On this occasion, Dr Dilshad Ahmed of Sindh Environmental Protection Agency said that every year various events related to the world environment are organized by the public and private sectors but, unfortunately, we do not implement what we learned from such events and that is why we have failed to produce fruitful results so far. He urged that people should take care of plants as it is necessary for the better future of our next generation.

Dr Erum Zaheer of the Department of Chemistry University of Karachi said that urgent measures should be taken to tackle climate change for which urgent action is required at the government and public levels. She said that climate change affects all walks of life and an integrated and sustainable system is needed to tackle change.

“Universities have the responsibility to be honest with their students and prepare them for a changing climate.”

Dr Maroof Bin Rauf from Department of Education, Dr Fayyaz Alam of the Dua Foundation also addressed the seminar and gave a detailed presentation regarding the world environment day.

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Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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