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Pakistan President Arif Alvi said on Thursday that the government has been making efforts to increase forest cover in the country to counter the adverse impacts of climate change.

"Rising mercury levels are resulting in glacier melting and urban flooding in Pakistan," Alvi said in his message on the launch of the national monsoon tree plantation drive.

He said concerted efforts are needed to carry out extensive plantations in a bid to save the country from the horrendous effects of climate change.

The President said that a country required 25 per cent forest cover as per international standards, but Pakistan only has 4.8 per cent.

Alvi said that the extensive plantation would not only help the country to counter climate change issues but would also preserve wildlife, flora and fauna.

In an effort to increase the forest area, Pakistan under its 10 Billion Tree Tsunami program had planted 1.81 billion trees by June 2022, and around 3.29 billion trees will be planted by 2023, said the President.

According to the Ministry of Climate Change, more than 300 million saplings will be planted under the ongoing countrywide monsoon tree plantation campaign.

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 Josep Borrell, the European Union's (EU) foreign policy chief, on Thursday started high-level crisis talks between Kosovo and Serbia in Brussels, urging both sides to show flexibility.

"Recent tensions in the north of Kosovo have demonstrated yet again that it is time to move forward towards full normalisation," Borell said in a tweet.

Hoping for progress, Borrell called on both Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister of Kosovo, Albin Kurti, "to be open and flexible to find common ground".

The two Balkan leaders arrived for the EU-mediated talks after separately meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday to discuss recent tensions.

The NATO chief hosted talks after a dispute over car licence plates and identity documents in late July resulted in barricades and shots fired close to the Kosovo-Serbia border.

KFOR, NATO's peacekeeping mission in Kosovo, numbering around 4,000 troops, said in response that it was monitoring the situation closely and is prepared to intervene "if stability is jeopardized".

While welcoming the now-improved situation, Stoltenberg repeated that KFOR "will take any measure that is necessary to ensure a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all the people of Kosovo."

Kosovo, which is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Albanians, broke away from Serbia in 1999 and declared independence in 2008.

Serbia has not recognised Kosovo's independence and continues to lay claim to the territory. Most NATO and EU countries recognize Kosovo as a separate state.

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 Long-awaited rains have aided emergency workers in subduing raging wildfires in the eastern Spanish province of Valencia, authorities said on Thursday.

Spanish emergency services tweeted on Thursday that the spread of the fire has been arrested and that the flames could be extinguished in many areas, reports dpa news agency.

Two wildfires in the Bejis region in the north, and in Vall d'Ebro in the south of Valencia have ravaged an area of around 21,000 hectares of land.

On Wednesday, the fires in Bejis forced a train to stop.

Several passengers panicked and jumped out of the train, with five suffering significant burns, before the train backed out of the blazes and returned to its station of origin.

Some 2,000 people were evacuated from their homes amid the fires, of which some are now able to return, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia and national television broadcaster RTVE reported.

2022 has been the worst year for forest fires since records began, with hundreds of wildfires throughout the summer destroying swathes of the countryside.

Forest fires have erupted across Europe amid dry conditions throughout the summer.

In Portugal, a forest fire around 80 km north of Lisbon has also been brought under control by around 500 emergency workers, according to Portuguese news agency Lusa.

Experts consider climate change to be a major factor in the increasing number of wildfires.

Climate change causes higher temperatures, which in turn leads to the dry conditions that allow fires to erupt and spread more easily and more quickly.

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 In the coastal Chinese city of Xiamen, its not just the mouths of fishermen being swabbed for Covid-19, but also the fish theyve caught, a media report said.

As China maintains its commitment to zero Covid, city authorities are working to ensure there is no avenue for the virus to enter, ordering all fishers and their catch undergo a daily nucleic acid test,
The Guardian reported.

According to the Xiamen Jimei district's political and legal committee, it was necessary to swab both returning workers and their "materials" immediately upon disembarking each day, because some fishers had made illegal trades or contact with overseas vessels while at sea, "resulting in the import of the coronavirus".

"At present, all people in Xiamen city need nucleic acid testing, and the fish catches must be tested as well," an employee at the Xiamen municipal ocean development bureau told local media.

TV news reports showed officials swabbing the mouths of fish and the underside of crabs, The Guardian reported.

There was no report that any trace of the virus had been detected.

The rules were published late last month and made the news this week, sparking amusement on social media.

On Weibo a related hashtag was read 120 million times and discussed by more than 6,000.

"Absurd, this embodies decades of strangeness," one popular comment said.

Another suggested the authorities go a step further, incorporating marine life into the mandatory health code system, and ordering fish travelling from international waters into China's territory to conduct seven days' quarantine.

China has remained staunchly committed to zero Covid, a policy which has had wide domestic support but also grated many citizens.

The resource-intensive efforts have seen snap city-wide lockdowns, travel restrictions, and frequent nucleic acid testing requirements for citizens, The Guardian reported..

Last week a viral video showed customers at an Ikea overwhelming security guards to push through doors and prevent being locked inside after a snap quarantine order was issued to the store.

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 Chinese authorities are attempting to induce rainfall in parts of central and southwest parts of the country amid a severe drought and record-breaking heatwave, a media report said.

The Yangtze River, Asia's longest waterway, is now at record low levels and in some stretches, there has been less than half the usual rainfall, said the BBC report.

Hydropower reservoirs are currently down by as much as half, officials have said.

At the same time, a surge in demand for air conditioning has put power companies under extreme pressure, BBC reported.

The two-month-long heatwave is the longest on record in China, the National Climate Centre said.

Provinces around the drought-stricken Yangtze have turned to cloud seeding operations to combat the lack of rain, with Hubei and a number of other provinces launching rockets carrying chemicals into the sky, according to local media, the BBC reported.

Meanwhile, temperatures across Sichuan and neighbouring provinces have exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

Millions of residents have also been hit with black outs in the province.

In the city of Dazhou, home to some 5.4 million people, blackouts are lasting up to three hours, local media report.

They say factories in the province have been forced to cut production or halt work as part of emergency measures to redirect power supplies to households.

Hydropower reservoirs, of which there are many in the region, are currently down by as much as half, officials added.