City of Trees

October 4, 2019
Shahzad Qureshi is the founder of Urban Forest. The group plants trees in cities.
COURTESY URBAN FOREST

Karachi is a city in Pakistan. It is one of the hottest places on Earth. In 2015, more than 1,000 people died there during a heat wave. “It was a very terrible time,” Shahzad Qureshi told TIME for Kids. “We needed to do something about it.”

Qureshi took action. He started a group called Urban Forest. It plants trees in cities across Pakistan. Trees provide shade. They help cool the air (see “The Power of Trees”). This is especially helpful in cities, where roads and buildings hold in the heat.

Sophiya (left) is a student at Karachi Grammar School. Here, a member of the Urban Forest team helps her plant a tree.

SHAHZAD QURESHI

For its first project, Urban Forest planted about 1,300 trees in a park in Karachi. The group uses a special method that helps the trees grow quickly. In three years, the trees grew to be 30 feet tall. Qureshi hopes the park will one day become a forest of 50,000 trees.

Helping the Earth

Since 2015, Qureshi and his team have planted eight urban forests in Pakistan. Six are in Karachi. In addition to cooling the air, the trees provide a habitat for birds, insects, and other creatures. Some trees grow fruit for people and animals to eat.

Urban Forest plants native trees in a park in Karachi, Pakistan, in November 2015.

COURTESY URBAN FOREST

In 2017, Qureshi helped plant an urban forest at Karachi Grammar School. First, he met with students to teach them how trees help the environment. Then students planted saplings in the schoolyard. The trees attract birds and colorful butterflies. Students go outside during science class to study the forest. “It’s like a library of native trees in front of the kids,” says Qureshi. “It’s a beautiful thing to see.”

The Power of Trees

MAX LABEILLE—GETTY IMAGE

Trees are powerful plants. They can help lower summer temperatures in cities by 2° to 9°F. That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. How do they do it? Trees make shade. Air temperatures are cooler in the shade. And trees release water through their leaves. This helps cool the air, too.