I love the stout trees with intercepting branches, giving shade to weary people. But with a sad note, I say that my heart weeps when I see these beautiful trees cut down ruthlessly just to construct new buildings, innovating the front elevations of houses and even modifying the big prestigious institutions by cutting trees to boost ugly sense of displaying glass elevations! Other main reasons to cut down trees are to to be used or sold as fuel or timber. This continuing removal of trees has resulted in the damage to habitat and biodiversity. Cutting of trees is shaping climate and geography in the city. As a result, Karachi is heating up faster and reaching a higher temperature (as evident by the heat wave that occurred 2 years back, causing death of many people by heat stroke).
Trees play a critical role in absorbing greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Trees are vital to life, house millions of species, protect soil from erosions, produce oxygen, store carbon dioxide and help control the climate. Trees control carbon cycle on our planet. Trees consume carbon dioxide to conduct photosynthesis and produce oxygen which is released. They absorb heat during the day and release it at night balancing out the overall temperature.
I always like to go for my morning walk around the streets leading from my house to Hill Park and coming back as there are beautiful trees on both sides of streets with dwelling birds to sing before the haphazard Karaciites wake up, honking much chaotic traffic and serene atmosphere is polluted.
Sometimes I go out to capture the pictures of beautiful trees and sometimes I find beautiful trees while going out for my job to college and Hospital or on way to other tasks. If I can not take photographs then I visit that place again to take the picture. One such tree came to my sight while I was returning from Hospital during last ramadan. It was so beautiful that I stopped my car, came out and took photos while in a hot summer day with Roza at 3:30 pm in the afternoon. I could not ignore its beauty! The most beautiful and old trees exist in Karachi Zoological garden (Gandhi garden). Whenever we make a plan to take kids out to see animals, I accompany them to watch the beautiful trees!
Some new parks were made a few years back in Karachi but the architect or designer chose ornamental bushes to become hedges and not the big birds dwelling trees like Neem, Gul mohar, Kamni, or others as the main interest was to produce a symmetrical artificial image. Although it is easy to grow grass in space and plant trees without symmetry and in a few years, trees will grow and will give beauty that is not comparable to well planned designs of parks. In our nation two habits are rampant, first is the destructive sense, as parks that existed in the past are deteriorated and the other is uncleanliness, as if parks exist but are littered! I think if every individual cleans the area in front of his/her house or shop or office, whole country will be clean. Rather to clean, we actually litter the places despite giving five times ablution to ourselves but during which we even make the bathrooms filthy!
The other thing that I have noticed is that, people plant those trees that are not according to our geographical environment or either they grow straight without giving shade or without giving dwelling place to birds, like Sufaiday ka darakht or Khakoor ka darakht. There are people whom I know, have cut their blooming Neem trees to plant khajoor tree but these trees withered after transplantation to the site of poor Neem! I think this gives people some religious boost to grow Islamic trees! What a pathetic idea to label trees as Islamic or unislamic! When I went to Madina, I witnessed date trees in full bloom, lush green, moving in the breeze! Because the geographical climate of Madina is favourable to their growth! The best trees for karachi are those that take less water and provide shade like Neem, banyan trees, Barna trees, Peeple, Tamarind, Amaltas, Acacia and Eucalyptus trees. I remember that in the past our forefathers used to plant fruit trees in the houses, like my grand mother’s house had a mango tree, a guava tree and a Tamarind tree and my parents planted Badam tree, guava, mango and papaya. But now new houses are built with garden to grow mostly the ornamental plants, bushes and hedges.
I wish and pray that these beautiful trees of my city keep on standing stout and they are not cut by people who have no awareness of their importance plus no aesthetic sense! Greenery gives serenity to the mind and soul! Dr. Zeba Hisam, 1st May, 2017