ISLAMABAD, July 29 (Xinhua) -- A number of incidents of forest fire have reduced over 1.2 million trees in Pakistan's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province during the recently concluded financial year ranging from July 2018 to June 2019, local reports said Monday.
The fire, by destroying the trees, has incurred a loss of 27.2 million rupees (about 170,000 U.S. dollars) to the provincial government. An inquiry has been initiated to determine the cause of the fire as the loss has hurt the central government's efforts to increase the country's forest cover.
Secretary of Ministry of Climate Change Hassan Nasir Jamy told media on Monday that the forest department is making all-out efforts to protect trees, especially those young trees planted by the provincial government during the last five years.
The official said the lack of modern equipment is the main cause of the fire spread adding that 13 people of the forest department have been killed while extinguishing the fire.
"To control the fire incidents, the forest department has framed standard operating procedures and decided to ban fireworks, campfires and any other activity that increases risks of forest fires," said the official.
According to official reports, Pakistan lost an average of approximately 43,000 hectares of forests every year from 2000 to 2010. With only above 2 percent forest cover remaining and a high deforestation rate of the country, the provincial government launched a billion-tree plantation project named Billion Tree Tsunami in 2014 and completed it in 2017.
The project won acclaims from across the world, following which Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan launched another project named 10 billion-tree tsunami for the whole country in February this year.