City of Trees

April 17, 2020
FANTASTIC FORESTS Shahzad Qureshi is the founder of Urban Forest, a group that plants trees in Pakistan.
COURTESY URBAN FOREST

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

After the heat wave, Qureshi took action. He started Urban Forest. The group plants native trees in cities in Pakistan.

Trees help cool the air by providing shade and releasing moisture through their leaves. Trees can help lower summer temperatures in cities by 2° to 9°F. That’s according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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

TREES, PLEASE Karachi Grammar School student Sophiya (left) gets help planting a tree.

SHAHZAD QURESHI

Keeping Things Cool

Since 2015, Qureshi and his team have helped cool the air by planting 14 urban forests in Pakistan. Twelve are in Karachi. The trees also provide a habitat for a variety of animals and food for the community. And they create a shady spot where people can kick back and relax.

In 2017, Qureshi helped plant an urban forest at Karachi Grammar School. First, he met with students there. He taught them about how trees help the environment. Then the students pitched in. They helped plant saplings in the schoolyard.

“They were excited about the project,” Muneeza Shaikhali says. She’s a headmistress at Karachi Grammar School. “They themselves had been experiencing the high temperatures in the summer months.”

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,” Qureshi says. “They can identify the native species, bugs, and insects that are around. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”