Hot weather is nothing new to people living in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city, where heatwaves can sometimes bring life-threatening temperatures of 44˚C upon its population of 15 million. But while the shade is in high demand in this concrete jungle, greenery is rather scarce.
In light of that, a local resident decided to take matters into his own hands to transform a rundown park in the city into an urban oasis booming with biodiversity. The man in question is Shahzad Qureshi.
From rundown park into a haven from native species
About six years ago, Quereshi ventured to turn a deserted patch of land next to a few high rise apartment buildings into a haven for wildlife. The one hectare land now boasts 55 different species of plants, reports euronews.
“The word forest brings images of something which is very far off and is filled with animals and you know, something you have to make an effort to go to,” he says. “You can have small patches of forest within human settlements as a very dense plantation which brings all sorts of benefits for the people living around it.”
Equipped with a passion for biodiversity, Qureshi wanted to prove that rundown areas can be turned into attractive green spaces using native species. “Non-native species have been tried before and they have been disastrous for the city’s climate and the local climate area,” he explains. “This is only native species-based, no chemical, no pesticides, no fertilizer used in this technique”.
The best part is that the new park requires minimal maintenance since the water for irrigation is supplied by two wetland channels that filter up sewage from a nearby drain.
An urban oasis for local residents
In a city where heatwaves are a not so infrequent phenomenon, Qureshi hopes that the urban forest will serve as an oasis for people to take a break, connect with nature, and share the benefits of being close to trees.
“I feel this is actually what humans should be in touch with because nature is the most important part. And if we just go into concrete buildings and cut away from all the nature then there is nothing left,” says local resident, teacher Fatima Hussain, who has welcomed the project with open arms.