File photo: a scene of Gwadar port. [Photo provided to Gwadar Pro]
GWADAR, Nov. 13 (Gwadar Pro) - What have you done since the outbreak of the COVID-19? Someone has read dozens of books or built up abdominal muscles. Some people even have built a friendship forest in Gwadar Port, southwest of Pakistan.
The Pak-China Friendship Forest, covering 4-hectare, lies at the foot of the Koh-e-Batil Hill.
As a symbol of the friendship between the sister cities of Gwadar and Puyang, China, the park is jointly built by the two cities and the China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC), the port's operator.
“We have been striving for Gwadar port’s operation and people’s living environment,” said Zhang Baozhong, chairman of COPHC at a forum on Gwadar’s green economic development.
So, the afforestation is given a priority in Gwadar port. The first problem is the low survival rate of plants because of Gwadar’s desert climate.
COPHC has invited experts in botany to provide technical guidance so that the tropical cash trees with properties of drought, high-temperature, high saline-alkali soils resistance have been planted successfully here.
So far, various of trees, shrubs and flowers amounting to around 100,000 have been planted, according to COPHC.
According to Yulin Holdings, in charge of construction of the friendship forest, have built a dedicated water supply line from the seawater desalting plant to the forest, an irrigation pipeline network within the forest, and a water storage tanker with a capacity of 3,000 cubic meters.
The Pak-China Friendship Forest lies at the foot of the Koh-e-Batil Hill, Gwadar port. [Photo provided to Gwadar Pro]
With lines of trees and colorful flowers everywhere, the forest emerges as an oasis in the desert, which is totally different from the bleak scene before, according to Zhang Saiyang of Yulin Holdings who has been working here since 2016.
Zhang said he could feel the improvement of the ecosystem here with his eyes. For example, there are more birds and insects in the port. The flowers also attract bees.
The humidity and oxygen in the air are rising. It is very cozy for locals to sit in the shade and enjoy cool breeze.
Sound environment is not only good for people’s physical health but also mental health. Zhang told Gwadar Pro, local children like the colorful flowers here very much. They are always delighted to enjoy these flowers.
Zhang also said, they have established a plant tissue culture laboratory and a greenhouse to conduct the research, breed and planting of cash plants here and try to bring more benefits to the local people.
Trees and grass in a small park at the Gwadar port. [Photo provided to Gwadar Pro]
Only a “Green Gwadar” would enable the port to be operated well and bring benefits to future generations of local people, Zhang added.
In 2018, COPHC launched a large-scale tree-planting program, aimed to enhance Gwadar’s afforestation level and improve the local’s living environment.
The program was in line with the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s 10 billion tree plantation drive.
In August, 2020, PM Khan launched the country's largest tree plantation campaign with the aim of planting 3.5 million saplings in the country in a single day.
He stated that Pakistan was among the top ten countries most affected by climate change. The wheat production has fallen over the past two years due to climate change and unprecedented rainfall.
"If we keep continuing on this path, then some of the areas will become deserts," PM said, "It is our responsibility to make the country green for future generations."
Then Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing participated in the drive by planting saplings at the embassy.
On a recent regular press conference, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, said China strongly supports the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and will continue to focus cooperation on people's livelihoods, industry and agriculture on the basis of the sound operation of existing projects.
Zhang said, COPHC will continue to improve the friendship forest and build it into the best cultural landscape with specialties in the port.
COPHC and Gwadar people will make efforts to realize the wins both in economic development and Green Gwadar building, he added.
Zhang said, “Gwadar’s ecological system is so vulnerable that once destroyed, it is difficult to restore. At the very beginning, we have been paying high attention to the environment and choosing the environment-friendly enterprises to settle in the free zone.”
In addition to afforestation, to strengthen Gwadar’s capability to respond to climate change, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment donated a batch of equipment including 4,000 sets of solar photovoltaic systems and LED lights to local people without access to electricity in November 2019.
Wahag Baloch is one of Gwadar’s needy families who received the solar photovoltaic systems donated by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment. [Photo provided to Gwadar Pro]
Wahag Baloch is one of these needy families who received the solar photovoltaic systems. He said in the past, there was no electricity for one day or two days. “Now I have gotten a solar (photovoltaic system). There is light in my house 24 hours. It’s good. Lights are superb,” said Wahag.
Gwadar Port is a key project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).