On August 25, Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the country’s first ‘smart forest’ in Rakh Jhok Forest in Sheikhupura. A part of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development project – a modern city being developed on an area of 46 km along the Ravi River – the forest covers 24,000 kanals of land. It will be equipped with smart sensors and surveillance systems. Chinese tech giant Huawei will be the smart partner in the project. That is why this forest is being called ‘smart’.
Chinese tech giant Huawei and Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to this effect. Under the agreement, Huawei will plant 10 million plants and will be responsible for monitoring them through the use of modern technology. Moreover, botanical gardens, bird sanctuaries, riverside parks, walking tracks and gardens will be set up in the smart forest.
The Smart Forest project is divided into four zones, including the restoration and conservation of existing forests. The other three zones will include urban forests and orchards. According to the details of the project, as much as 10 million plants will be planted in the forest and these will be monitored with the help of sensors. According to SAPM on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam, the forest would be monitored through technology, and cameras and sensors would be installed to monitor growth of plants and any other activity in the forest. The sensors will instantly identify whenever a tree is being cut.
This is made possible by IoTs, the Internet of Things. It is basically a network of ‘devices’ that can send data or information to each other through a network without the help of humans or computers. In the case of agriculture or tree planting, these ‘devices’ are sensors installed in or around plants that are connected to the Internet. These sensors transmit the information they receive over the Internet to a device that the monitor can see. This device is his mobile phone.
A few sensors are installed above and below ground level in a field or plant environment. Underground sensors collect information on the moisture content, i.e. the level of water available to plants, or the amount of minerals in the soil.
Benefits for Pakistan
According to experts, Pakistan is one of the countries that are facing the negative effects of climate change and may face problems such as water shortage and food shortage in the coming days. In such a scenario, experts advise the use of technology to innovate in agriculture and tree planting. But how can technology or smart agriculture help Pakistan?
The use of technology in a smart forest can save as many trees as possible from dying. In addition to IoTs, drone cameras are also used to monitor such forests to ensure that no illegal logging takes place. In this way, the forest can spread over a larger area and the larger the forest, the more it will be able to absorb the carbon or carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere. Experts believe that to avoid the negative effects of climate change, it is necessary to keep the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to a minimum.
Trees also provide oxygen for human needs. Moreover, compared to conventional field or forest, smart forest plants only get water only when they need it. Thus a large amount of water that is lost in the traditional method of irrigation is saved. The water saved in this way can save the groundwater supply from depletion and will be available for food cultivation.
In the same vein, they are given fertilizer as per their need. This not only saves the cost of the farmer but also increases the yield of the plant due to its good health.
So, in fine, with the use of smart methods, Pakistan can deal with problems such as food shortages.