Home Views & Opinions Where are our green spaces?

Where are our green spaces?


The quest for humans to earn capital and expand their livelihoods has always created a negative, adverse impact on nature. Where the industrial revolution brought to fore new ways of conducting business, it also enabled humans to cut through natural resources for their benefits. The expansion of cities from a localized area to a much-expanded expanse resulted in the cutting down of trees and forests. Karachi is no different. Viewing the city from the air, it seems to be a city made with concrete structures with only a few patches of greenery.
According to the Global Liveability Index, Karachi is, unfortunately, one of the ten worst cities to live in. The alarming air quality is because the trees that once adorned its streets and lanes have been reduced largely. According to the World Bank, the green-space in the urban areas of Karachi are nearly 4% of the built-up area. The need of the hour is to create green spaces and maintain them with continuous monitoring. Green spaces provide habitat for birds and animals, insects, and other species. It creates an ecosystem that sustains life.
Green spaces also prevent soil erosion and absorb rainwater. Much of Karachi’s air pollution problem could have been reduced had there been an ample quantity of trees present across the city. An important term to understand is the urban heat island effect. This occurs when concrete pavements, buildings, and structures absorb solar radiation and re-emit it. This increases temperature and creates a nuisance for humans.
The presence of trees and green spaces, however, reduces the impact of the urban heat island effect. Trees provide shade to the heat-absorbing surfaces and indirectly through Evapotranspiration. Moreover, green spaces can also reduce noise pollution through the dense screen of trees. The number of trees that a city has also determines the ecological sustainability of the community.
Furthermore, green spaces provide recreational value as children can play and adults can spend quality time with friends and neighbors. They are also used for doing exercise including walk, yoga, and cycling. A key aspect of green spaces is that they bring nature into the urban landscape. This creates a harmonious blend between the concrete jungle and the natural environment. New layers of urban biodiversity are also created when green spaces are preserved. Wildlife corridors open that bring the aspect of sustainability when it comes to balancing human life with that of the animal and plant kingdom. Such steps also accentuate the usage of farming as people can grow vegetables and fruits in their backyards.
When discussing the environment of Karachi, special emphasis must be given to how green spaces can be brought into urban planning. The government needs to play an active part in this regard with a sustainability factor involved at each step. While plantation activities are encouraged, they must be conducted extensively among all cities. Schools, colleges, and universities can play a major part. Each educational institution must be asked to sow seeds and plant saplings on their campus. Children tend to put their hearts into an activity and it bodes positive results.
The public-private partnerships must be promoted to plan such strategies that bring fruitful results. The government sector can join hands with various companies to plant saplings. The public-private partnership must also designate some areas in a city and mark them as green space zones. They should be developed into parks comprising trees, plants, and gardens. Organizations can take up the task to maintain and such green space zones as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative.
Moreover, organizations can use their premises in innovative ways. They can place climber plants or clinging plants to cover the outer surface of their buildings. This will make up for the space that is unavailable for plantation and also beautify the city. The companies from the corporate sector can also convert their rooftops into gardens that will cool the building and present a beautiful look.
The government must form a committee to plan, strategize, execute, and maintain all procedures and actions related to establishing such green space zones across the cities of Pakistan. Furthermore, transparency and accountability must be followed to ensure expected results are achieved as per the plan. Until the private-public partnership does not strengthen in making Pakistan green, the urban jungle will continue to haunt us and our generations.