From encouraging school and university students to participate in tree planting with their local communities, to the 33.5 million trees planted in Pakistan’s Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces; from training unemployed youth in Kenya to plant seedlings, to reducing fuel-wood consumption through the introduction of efficient stoves and mini hydroelectric plants, AKDN has planted well over 100 million trees over the last half century.
The benefits extend well beyond the much-publicised contribution of trees to absorbing carbon to counter climate change. When planted strategically and managed responsibly, they provide food, contribute to a pleasant living environment, increase biodiversity, repropagate marginalised land, improve soil and water management, protect against natural hazards and revitalise rural communities.
Disaster risk reduction
Anecdotal evidence suggests that areas under tree cover across Tajikistan have declined from 20 percent in 1991 to less than three percent in 2019. The Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) is helping Tajikistan to engage communities in tree planting and advance progress towards the country’s climate change mitigation targets under its National Determined Contribution.
With the Government of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), AKAH recently planted over 2,000 trees across the region. The initiative was funded through the Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan Fund for Environment as part of a larger effort to promote tree planting and afforestation as nature-based disaster risk reduction solutions. AKAH is working with the local government to develop two nurseries to sustainably provide climate-resilient heritage and heirloom saplings for eco-disaster risk reduction initiatives in the Pamirs. We are also installing water supply systems and working with local authorities and the community to identify, prepare and monitor plantation sites.
Similarly, in Afghanistan, climate change has significantly affected the landscape and poses a very real threat to the population. Increased incidences of drought, change in precipitation rates, floods and avalanches have had drastic impacts on people and property. In 2021, AKAH and the local community planted 3,500 trees in Dasht-e-Dehkhaw in Badakhshan, Afghanistan. This helped to stabilise a dangerous slope and protect the village below from deadly landslides and rockfalls.
AKAH’s initiatives target tree planting on sites which are particularly exposed to natural hazards. Here, the trees can provide protection against disasters such as floods and landslides while also expanding public green spaces.
Green space can transform city inhabitants’ quality of life, providing space for recreation, exercise and relaxation. Parks create "green lungs" for cities, reducing pollution and preserving local ecosystems. AKAH supports community-led urban tree planting drives to improve quality of life and promote environmental responsibility.
Together with the Government of Tajikistan’s Committee for Environmental Protection, the Mayor's Office of Dushanbe and the Government of Switzerland, we have planted 300 trees in a park in Dushanbe.
In Kabul, climate change compounds the impacts of unplanned urbanisation, an increase of motorised vehicles on the roads, the construction of high-rise buildings and the reduction of space for public gatherings due to commercialisation of lands.
AKDN has built two major parks in the capital – Chihilsitoon and Babur's Gardens. In addition, it has planted 50,000 trees contributing to the city’s greenery, environmental sustainability and the residents’ quality of life.