Urban Forest: Story of Jungle in the city of Karachi

Urban Forest in Karachi

This story has been depicted from one of our documentaries covering the Urban Forest being developed by a social and welfare organization called Green Hands.

As many of us are very well aware about the global warming issues from which our planet has been impacted very badly. The main reasons of the Global Warming can be considered as depletion of ozone layer, which fails to protect the earth from Ultraviolet rays. Another reason is the excessive quantity of Green House Gases (GHGs). One of the most important reasons of Global Warming and Climate Change is Deforestation, which has been criminally done unfortunately in every part of the world.

What NASA’s Climate Division says about climate change and GHGs

According to NASA’s Climate Division following is the definition and explanation about Global Warming.

Scientists attribute the global warming trend observed since the mid-20th century to the human expansion of the “greenhouse effect”1 — warming that results when the atmosphere traps heat radiating from Earth toward space.

Certain gases in the atmosphere block heat from escaping. Long-lived gases that remain semi-permanently in the atmosphere and do not respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature are described as “forcing” climate change. Gases, such as water vapor, which respond physically or chemically to changes in temperature, are seen as “feedbacks.”

Gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect include:

  • Water Vapor
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Methane
  • Nitrous Oxide
  • Chlorofluorocarbons

Deforestation and role of trees in protecting environment

Trees are the main consumers of Carbon Dioxide gas, and due to the excessive deforestation, there are no trees left behind to consume carbon dioxide gas and produce oxygen for us in return. We are very cruelly cutting off the trees to fulfill our needs at any cost. It doesn’t matter to us that this deforestation is giving a lot of damage to the nature and ourselves as well. Following are the details of consumption of wood in different industries and products.

Wood being extracted after harvesting (cutting the trees) is being used for building houses, furniture, flooring, shipping containers, and many other products. Wood pulp is being used in making paper. Wood used to make commercial products is referred to as lumber.

All the above industries are basically running their businesses on deforestation. They will never think to stop deforestation, because their production is basically relying on harvesting. These businessmen will try to push the maximum of their limit to do as much deforestation as they can to groom their businesses.

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In the current scenario while some of the people are cruelly performing the above deeds, there are also some angle-like people who are trying to control the global warming, and trying to contribute in stopping deforestation and promoting plantation activities by engaging people in their campaigns.

Who is Shahroz Siraj and Green Hands Foundation and what they actually want to do?

Shahroz Siraj is also one of those people who are trying to save the environment and Earth, by performing plantation activities in different of their approachable areas of Karachi City. Shahroz has founded a social and welfare organization called “Green Hands”, to perform the activities of plantation in a broader manner.

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Shahroz is basically an Electronic Technologist, and working professionally in the field as well. But he never left his passion behind which is environmental protection.  In last two years he has conducted 100s of plantation activities and done amazing job by settling a benchmark for many others by developing multiple Urban Forests in North Karachi Town being situated in the heart of a very densely populated and busy metropolitan city of Karachi in Pakistan.

1st Urban Forest project

Image of the 1st Urban Forest
Shahroz standing in his first project of Urban Forest

Shahroz Siraj with the help of his friends which are also his team members established a mini urban forest in a park situated in the Sector 11-A, of North Karachi Town. This project was the very beginning of the initiative taken by Shahroz, he was having nearly no resources to establish this kind of huge project which requires Investment, piece of land, permission from authorities etc. If we go back to 2018 Shahroz were not having his NGO which is now being called Green Hands. He was having nothing but the motivation and will to achieve this task assigned to him by the nature. He started working by gathering people and forming a team of volunteers to join the noble cause. They conducted the door to door campaign to give awareness to the people about their Urban Forest, and to invite the people to contribute in the plantation activities being run in their own area of residence.

We conducted a Q/A session with Shahroz regarding his concept behind the project of Urban Forest. And what hurdles he did faced in spreading the word of this project, keeping in mind that this is going to be a very new thing for the people. And people might not accept it in the first go, just watch out the video to know about the hurdles Shahroz faced in the very first go.

2nd Urban Forest project

2nd Urban forest of Green Hands Foundation
Another view of the 2nd emerging urban forest

This first Urban Forest was just the start of a long and great journey. After completing the first project, Shahroz never stopped, and immediately after its completion he started to strive for another opportunity to establish a bigger and better urban forest.

For this he approached many of the governmental departments, like Directorate of Parks and Horticulture and District Municipal Corporation, for the allocation of land to establish the urban forest. Shahroz has achieved the trust of the departments already. That is why he selected a site at Babul Islam at Sector – 9 of North Karachi Town, and requested the official to visit the site and give them approval after knowing their proposal.

Shahroz with Green Hands

And this time Shahroz came stronger with his own registered NGO called Green Hands. The banner of Green Hands provided a stronger platform for Shahroz to present his proposals in front of these governmental organizations. After having the proposal for 2nd of their Urban Forest, they gave him the written approval immediately. Because it was a noble cause, and everyone were striving to serve for it.

This time they were having a bigger team of volunteers and contributors, they picked a patch of a public park for this Urban Forest. In this patch they planted 80 trees; these trees were donated by the contributors of Green Hand. Shahroz asked the contributors to plant a tree in the name of those people who they loved and for whom they want these trees to pray even after their death.

It was really a great reason for the contributors to plant as much trees as they can bear to plant. In both of these UFs they planted trees of multiple fruits. They have planned that when these trees will grow up to 10-12 feet they will make a boundary of bamboos around the UF to protect it from any harmful act of anyone. They will open it for public for a fixed time, during which people will be allowed to sit between the trees to take deep breaths in fresh oxygen.

Another of their motives is to provide a natural habitat to the birds who are feeling themselves endangered. In this UF they will get able to make their nest on the trees and can drink water from the pond going to be constructed in the middle of this UF. At the whole their motive is to create a clean environment for everyone.

Shahroz answered all of our queries about the 2nd of his great ventures with the nature. In the following video we tried to extract all the positive thoughts hiding inside Shahroz.

These types of ventures can be seen very rare in today’s world. Even after knowing about the whole scenario of deaths in result of heat strokes, climate change and global warming, we have proven ourselves to be least bother about it. In fact it is not only Shahroz’s duty to perform these plantation activities and developing urban forests for us, it is the whole and sole responsibility of each and every human being living on this planet. We have to think from the deepest part of our thinking senses about this issues, otherwise we will be lying nowhere in this world.

Story by: Talha Ali Hashmi

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