*OPO's Tree Canopy data this page processed on Maxar Imagery

Shahzad Qureshi

OPO's AI Technology: Mapping Tree Canopy Over Karachi*

Shahzad Tree Planting

Karachi Urban Heat Island

Urban Forest Park 2022

Urban Forest Park Before Construction

Growing Karachi's Urban Forest

'Tree Canopy Mapping helps leverage funding avenues, techincal resources to get on and develop areas with planting.'

How can people learn more about your work, or where can they go to follow your journey?

Thanks for the conversation, great to be sharing our work. If people want, they can jump online to watch the below videos and learn more!

What is one of your favourite successes and brings a smile to your face?

We re-designed a park which was ruined, and created a wetland channel, small lake which fed the park with water and an organic vegetable garden. The community were very happy and loved the park alot, bringing their dogs for a walk, or collecting fruit from the trees. Even over 100 events have take place here in the past  years.

For this, initially I faced serveral hurdles with the local Park administration - but finally when the park was completed. It was handed over ot the Mayor, which was really appreciated.

But this example shows how taking action can have impact, increasing biodiversity, reducing temperatures and creating community. We now have 38,000 plants in the park which is amazing, and with more data to show where future planting is needed - we're looking to plant more!

Tell us about why Urban Heat Islands are a problem in Karachi. How does this play out day-to-day, month-to-month?

Due to the lack of comprehensive green cover, and therefore the urban heat problem. We see not only high temperatures, but also in storm events - flash flooding. There isn't enough green space to provide cooling on hot days, but also absorb rain events. Further we have an air quality issue (depending on the direction) which impacts the population's health. Pakistan has some of the worst air quality in the world. So you can see the issues of urban heat are interlinked and why we need more trees.  

Shahzad, It is well documented that you have founded an urban forest in the heart of Karachi. How did you come across the idea?

I stumbled into this field when Karachi was going through a heatwave and found myself thinking, why is this happening?  At the same time learning about the technique of creating a forest using the Miyawaki method, created by Dr Akira Miyawaki - who was a taxonomist and botanist par excellence from Japan. With a lifelong learning to create a natural forest from the native species of the land. I have no qualifications in creating an urban forest, yet I tried this method and it worked really well!

Urban Forest Park

OPO uses our in-house AI to extract tree canopy for end users like yourself. How can this help you un-lock funding or strategy to better assist the community?

The data helps to show the actual cover and where it is. Where the areas with large or low canopy percent. This then helps us to focus on the next project and help decision makers push their agendas. It helps to also identify what's in our inventory, is it native or non-native. We're hoping for more natives overall and this data will help in these decisions.

It can also help from a community perspective to push agendas and force authorities to act. Or if they're not acting, help to leverage funding avenues, technical resources to get on and develop areas with planting.

Karachi faces numerous challenges, including urban heat islands, air quality issues, and flooding. Shahzad's urban forests aim to combat these problems by increasing tree canopy coverage. The current 1% tree canopy is targeted to grow to 25% within five years, thanks to partnerships and community involvement.

Using data from Office of Planetary Observations Tree Canopy Pack, can help Shahzad's team identify areas to focus on, pushing local authorities to take action and accelerating positive change. The community's enthusiastic response and improved city-government collaboration showcase the potential of technology-driven green initiatives. 

Shahzad's approach is not just about aesthetics; it's about fostering biodiversity and addressing pressing environmental concerns. The innovative Miyawaki method's rapid tree growth adds to the beauty and effectiveness of these urban forests, serving as a promising model for sustainable city development.

Shahzad Qureshi, founder of Urban Forest Coalition, is on a mission to transform Karachi into a greener and more sustainable city. Two years ago, he launched this initiative to unite businesses, individuals, and CSR efforts towards the shared goal of enhancing the city's green spaces.

Shahzad stumbled upon the idea during a heatwave, when he discovered the Miyawaki method, a Japanese technique for creating natural forests. This technique worked wonders, leading to 26 successful projects across Pakistan.

4 min read



Follow Us for Updates

05th September 2023

'I stumbled into this field when Karachi was going through a heatwave thinking - why is this happening?'

Scroll for more projects


* indicates required

Follow Us


We recognise the traditional owners of the land where we work, their elders past and present and their relationship with the landscape.

We recognise the Earth’s right to exist in its integrity, with all planetary boundaries intact and healthy so that all life on Earth can be sustained.


© Office of Planetary Observations Pty Ltd 2024  |  info@opobservations.com  | 12 Argyle Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia