Pakistan turns unemployed workers into tree planters

CC BY-SA 4.0 Noumanghouri – Poplar trees in Hunza Valley, Pakistan The country’s ambitious reforestation project has received a surprise influx of laborers, thanks to coronavirus. In 2018, Pakistan pledged to plant ten billion trees in an effort to slow climate change and to replenish a landscape that has been decimated by decades of deforestation, livestock grazing, and drought. It was an ambitious goal, but as the Washington Post reported at the time, "the idea of a green awakening seems to be taking root… The concept appeals to a new generation of better-educated Pakistanis, and it has sparked excitement on social media." That program, whose name is 10 Billion Tree Tsunami, has been chugging along for the past two years, but it recently received an unexpected infusion of help from – of all things – the coronavirus. Many Pakistanis are suddenly unemployed, so the government has given them jobs as tree-planters. Unemployed day laborers have been turned into "jungle workers," planting saplings for 500 rupees a day ($3), which is roughly half of what a construction worker would normally earn. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get by, and that can mean the difference between survival and […]

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