The News: The federal government would help provinces achieve Millennium Development Goals’ targets by bringing one million hector of new land under tree cover by 2015, a senior official said here on Thursday.
He said devolution of the environment ministry would not affect the targets set by the federal government and introduction of National Forest Policy would certainly enable the provinces to curtail deforestation and expand forest resources.
The official said the total area of forests in Pakistan is 4.224 million ha that is 4.8% of the total land area.
However, it may be mentioned here that the farmland trees and linear planting along roadsides, canal sides and railway sides covering an estimated area of 466,000 ha and 16,000 ha respectively do not constitute forests within the context of legal or ecological definition of forests.
It is pertinent to mention here the federal government announced 18th August as National Tree Plantation Day and last year it was observed throughout Pakistan with recorded achievement of 6.8 million saplings in one day.
“We have now been able to resolve contentious issues amicably with the provinces and other stakeholders and seeking to implement National Forest Policy 2010 very shortly,” he said.
According to official data, the Forest Policy was prepared to focus on development of forest resource base to enhance carbon sequestration
capacity and mitigation of climate change effects, conservation of biological diversity, protection and sustainable use of indigenous flora and fauna and fostering public-private partnerships to enhance forest cover.
The reports have already pointed out that with one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, Pakistan’s forests are in urgent need of protection and conservation. Pakistan is a semi arid country with less than 5% of its area under forest cover.
The major threat to Pakistan’s forests is uncontrolled and unsustainable cutting. Reasons for unsustainable commercial harvesting in state forests include lack of political will and commitment, poor planning, unrealistic forest working plans and weak implementation of forest protection laws.
The official said that national forest programme is a comprehensive strategy and accord plan that was prepared after thorough consultation with the provincial forest departments, forest owners, civil society organizations, private sector and other stakeholders of private sectors.
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