On saving forests – ownership brings
By: Ramzan Qadir
public awareness and redefining ownership important for
Environmentalists at a
seminar held in the federal capital Friday on “Tackling
Global Warming through Conservation of Forests” said that
the number of trees in private agriculture farms in Pakistan
is increasing because of defined ownership but forests under
the government’s forestry departments are diminishing
Lack of ownership has made
it easy for timber mafia and corrupt government officials to
chop down trees for personal gains.
Shafqat Kakakhel, an expert
on climate change, said, “To protect the depleting forests
in Pakistan we should follow in the footsteps of other
countries by involving the local communities and building a
sense of ownership among the citizens.
For instance, a study on
deforestation in Cambodia has found that forests are better
protected when villagers and local communities are given the
responsibility to manage them locally.”
He further said that community forestry entrusts local
people to look after and manage forests with the aim of
producing social and economic benefits for them, whilst
maintaining and improving the condition of the land.
Currently, forests cover only
2.5 percent of the country’s land, he said, adding that
Pakistan has the highest annual deforestation rate in Asia,
according to the latest findings of the World Wide Fund for
Forests play a vital
role for preserving the eco-system, as a source of
livelihoods and as nature’s mechanism to reduce GHG
Forest cover is alarmingly
low in Pakistan and the existence of the timber mafia only
threatens to worsen the matter, said another
environmentalist, Mehmood Nasir, addressing the seminar.
“It’s the responsibility of developed world to provide
financial incentives to the developing countries and
indigenous communities whose livelihood depends on forests
and other natural resources to conserve and retain their
Nasir further said that for
conservation of forests, Pakistan needs to transition
through three phases; preparatory phase, pilot test phase
and developing a carbon trading scheme.
The purpose is to reduce emission from deforestation done by
converting land for other purposes, reduce emission from
degradation, slow degradation of trees, cutting firewood and
carbon stock enhancement.
However, he said Pakistan will need the international
support through UNO REDD+ program which is about to involve
indigenous people through financial incentives by developed
world because Pakistan is too poor to cater to the need of
its population which depends on natural resources especially
on forests for food, firewood and revenues.
He said that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and
Degradation (REDD) is an effort to create a financial value
for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for
developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands
and invests in low carbon paths to sustainable development.
“REDD+ goes beyond
deforestation and forest degradation, and includes the role
of conservation, sustainable management of forests and
enhancement of forest carbon stocks.”
Tariq Nazir Chaudhary said that to conserve the forests in
Pakistan, the Forest Department, provincial government and
local communities have a significant role.
However, he said that he felt
local communities must take more initiative as they are
directly concerned with natural resources.
A researcher, Kashif Salik Majeed, said that to preserve the
forests in Pakistan public awareness must be created because
sense of ownership among public will not allow the mafias to
chop the trees down.