For the best experience, open
on your mobile browser.

Building a Greener Future

Urban Forestry as the Path to Sustainable Cities in Jammu and Kashmir
12:00 AM Mar 26, 2024 IST | SUHAIL BASHIR
building a greener future

The world population is experiencing unprecedented growth, with an estimated increase of over 80 million people annually. This exponential rise poses significant challenges for resources, infrastructure, and the environment. Urban areas are particularly affected, as they bear the burden of accommodating the expanding population while striving to provide essential services and maintain sustainability.


Addressing the impacts of population growth is crucial for ensuring a balanced and prosperous future for humanity and the planet. With the global population rapidly increasing, cities have become major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for approximately three-quarters of the world's total.


This escalating urbanisation also places immense strain on the global energy supply, which is expected to intensify in the future. To mitigate these challenges, cities must proactively address their environmental impact.

While Jammu and Kashmir boast a significant green cover, it falls short of meeting the demands of its growing population. In this context, the implementation of urban forestry presents an effective solution that can reduce emissions, enhance liveability, and combat climate change strategically.


Urban forestry refers to the establishment of wide green spaces within urban areas, often referred to as "green walls," which contribute to climate change mitigation and create a more sustainable urban environment. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, an urban forest project of substantial scale holds immense promise due to its strategic importance in terms of climatology.


By embracing urban forestry projects on a broader scale, we can revolutionise the way cities function. These projects should incorporate the plantation of million native/indigenous trees across urban areas of Jammu and Kashmir, to maximize their services and benefits. It is vital to prioritise indigenous species that are well-suited to the local climate and ecosystem.


Plants, particularly trees, serve as invaluable carbon reservoirs and play a vital role in mitigating climate change. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a mature live tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide in a single year. This carbon dioxide is then stored within the tree's fibers, providing a long-term solution for carbon sequestration.


It remains locked away unless the tree or wood experiences an event such as fire or decomposition, which releases the stored carbon back into the atmosphere. Recognising the significance of trees as natural carbon sinks underscores the importance of preserving and expanding urban forests as a key strategy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting a sustainable future at regional and international level. The plantation of one million trees in every city has the potential to make a significant impact on carbon reduction and create healthier, cooler urban environments.

However, considering that a mature tree can absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, one million trees collectively have the potential to remove millions of pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. This substantial carbon reduction effort can contribute to mitigating climate change and improving air quality in cities, which is worsening and expected to be alarming in future.

Moreover, trees provide numerous additional benefits as they act as natural air purifiers, filtering out pollutants and particulate matter, thereby improving overall air quality. The shade provided by trees helps lower temperatures, reducing the urban heat island effect and creating cooler microclimates within cities.

This, in turn, will enhance the well-being and comfort of residents, making cities more liveable and enjoyable. This approach will ensure that the new green space functions as an effective forest ecosystem rather than merely resembling a park.

Moreover, urban forestry is just one component of a comprehensive and integrated system of sustainable measures required to transform cities into environment friendly spaces. In Jammu and Kashmir, the implementation of new "environmental corridors" is essential.

These corridors would prioritise sustainable transportation options such as cycling and public transit/electric buses over personal vehicles, reducing carbon emissions and promoting active lifestyles while alleviating traffic congestion.

Investing in greener energy sources is another crucial aspect of sustainable urban development. By transitioning to renewable energy, cities can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and enhance their resilience to climate change impacts. Integrating smart grid technologies and energy-efficient infrastructure will maximize energy conservation and ensure long-term sustainability.

While promoting green building practices is also essential for creating sustainable cities. Incorporating eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient designs and green roofs not only reduces energy consumption but also improves air quality and provides insulation, creating healthier and more comfortable living environments for residents.

As cities continue to grapple with the challenges posed by population growth and climate change, urban forestry emerges as a viable and effective solution. In the case of Jammu and Kashmir, the establishment of a massive urban forest can help combat climate change, reduce emissions and enhance the liveability regionally and globally.

However, urban forestry alone is not enough; it must be part of an integrated approach that includes environmental corridors, sustainable transportation, greener energy sources, and eco-friendly building practices. By embracing these measures, cities can pave the way towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Suhail Bashir, Environmental Consultant, Sharjah UAE