International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Pakistan was organized a training session on “forest fire control and management” for the senior officials of Punjab Forest Department in alliance with the Ministry of Climate Change.
The training session was held at the Punjab Forest Services Academy, Ghorra Ghali Murree under the UNDP-GEF funded Sustainable Forest Management project.
Conservator Forest North Punjab Mr. Athar Shah Khaga appreciated the efforts of all the partners for focusing on the most important issue of forest fires which he termed as the biggest threat to the forests. He emphasized on joint efforts in improving the state of forests in Pakistan by all the public and private stakeholders and organizations like IUCN and others.
Country Representative, IUCN Pakistan Mr. Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, appreciated the establishment of the Punjab Forest Services Academy by the Additional Secretary Forest (Technical) Punjab, Mr. Shahid Rashid Awan.
He highlighted the efforts of Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan in promoting the state of Forest in Pakistan through the initiatives like Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme, where IUCN Pakistan is also assisting the Government of Pakistan.
He acknowledged the continued support of the Sustainable Forest Management project in making this initiative possible. He focused on value of forests as these are the natural assets of Pakistan. Since Pakistan has a low forest cover and forest fires can damage the ecosystem hence such trainings will be beneficial for taking preventive and remedial measures which are followed as per international practice. Local communities can play a major role in forest fire control.
He appreciated generous support by Mr. Abdul Razzaq, Director Punjab Forest Services Academy for rendering the services of the Academy in the capacity building of the senior staff members of the Forest Department. He appreciated the support of Mr. Shahid Rashid Awan in institutional strengthening of the academy. He acknowledged the support extended by renowned senior resource person, Raja Atta Ullah Khan and Raja Tariq Mahmood.
National Project Manager, Sustainable Forest Management Mr. Mohammad Ayaz Khan and the participants of the training from Punjab Forest Department witnessed and appreciated the provision of Forest Fire Control Equipment and Human Safety items for the forest fighters.
Manager Islamabad programme Office, IUCN Pakistan Ms. Fauzia Bilqis Malik, informed that a training manual on forest fire control is developed in urdu for the use by all level for staff and respective community. She informed about another training for field staff of Punjab Forest Department after this. Mr. Firoz uddin Ahmed, Provincial Project Coordinator SFM-Punjab presented various initiatives of the Sustainable Forest Management project towards promoting and safeguarding the forest landscapes in some parts of the country.
The training includes the interactive sessions on the cause of forest fire, control and management of forest fire. Consensus was that most important is the prevention, otherwise the impacts of forest fire are multi-fold. It destroys the valuable natural resource, precious Biodiversity and human lives and the country as a whole. Participants witnessed the fire fighting equipment and the human safety items of fire fighters. Recommendations for the effective and efficient fire-fighting system to protect and conserve the forest resource and ecosystems were compiled for policy makers.