Tribune: Progress in the environment sector remained weak during the outgoing fiscal year due to unavailability of funds. To make things worse the government reduced allocation of the sector from Rs3.5 billion in 2009-10 to Rs2.5 billion in 2010-11.
The major initiative taken by the government last year was the implementation of National Environmental Policy including the National Sanitation Policy and National Drinking Water Policy. The Climate Change Policy was also finalised and is yet to be approved.
Apart from that, the Planning Commission’s task force, which was established in October 2008, completed its report on climate change, delivering its proposals for adaption and mitigation of different departments including agriculture, livestock, energy, and forestry.
Pakistan has also been placed among countries with low forest cover.
According to official sources, total area covered by forests in the country is only 4.21 million hectares. Moreover, Pakistan has one of the highest deforestation rates in the world, according to WWF.
The main causes of low forest cover are arid and semi-arid climate in large parts of the country, overexploitation of forests, urbanisation, illegal logging, and conversion of forests into agricultural lands and abstraction and extraction of river waters without caring for the needs of forests.
However the government says it has formulated a strategy for environment in the next fiscal year which focuses on an integrated approach towards environment challenges including water and air pollution as well as land degradation.
The strategy includes the proposed establishment of a fund to harness multiple opportunities available in climate change, enhance carbon credit earnings under the Clean Development Mechanism, tackling desertification problems, promoting sustainable land management interventions, reduce dependence on non-renewable resources, direct eco-friendly green city concept as well as efficient monitoring and intervention of environmental programmes and conversion of environmental section of the Planning and Development Division into a permanent section.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2011. Source>>
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