Forests play a vivacious role in the economic development of any country by attracting tourists, improving GDP as well as foreign exchange earnings. The area under forests in Pakistan is only 4.5% and many agricultural scientists stated that it should be almost 25-30% of total area of any country. A large number of people & industries depend on forests for their livelihoods for fuel wood, food, paper, lumber, latex, eco-tourism as well as medicine. Principally, a rural community mainly depends on the forests to access water, medicine, fuel as well as for food items. Wood is used by industry for various purposes as furniture making, paper, and buildings construction.
Although, after deforestation, there are many risks that cannot be ignored. Deforestation is the replacement of forested areas to non-forest land for use such as cultivatable land, grazing land, desert, urban use, rural use or industrial use. Consequences of deforestation are very serious, one of them affect biodiversity ultimately leading to depletion of ozone layer. Agricultural, industrial activities, logging, fire, tourism development and mining are other reasons of deforestation. In most cases, deforestation focuses only on short-term gains and ignore the long-term consequences and problems. The significant number of ruinous illnesses cure can be found right now in various trees & herbs, but might be in future deforestation may remove everlasting the ability of something to discover which could be benefited for the human race in the coming years.
Deforestation increases the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as plants filter the carbon dioxide gases out from the air and release oxygen. It’s mean that cutting huge numbers of plants have a direct impact on the environment which is directly contributing to the global warming. Cutting number of plants have a lot of unfavorable consequences which can bring more droughts in Pakistan and after that, there would be no plants to protect the ozone layers. Consumption for accelerating livestock and crops deforestation encourages higher levels of water use. Instead of having a natural system of moisture as recycling forests provide, water goes to livestock production and food, removing it from the natural cycle of life.
Communities need to carefully consider the benefits and costs those who want to clear forest land for the agricultural or another purpose. Certain soils are not appropriate for agriculture, such as the nutrient-deficient soils of rainforests as well as acidic soils. Burn and slash techniques are habitually used to clear the rainforest land, nutrients locked up in vegetation to release when the trees are cut down and then the area is burned. Usually, the poor forest soil which assists to produce a layer of rich material, may be that type of land is productive only for a few years but finally, it will be lost and require fertilization and nutrients. Even in areas where forested land is suitable for agriculture, replacing forests with monoculture crop or tree farms opens up the economic risk of failure from weather, pests or disease. Also, the irreversible and abrupt consequences of deforestation may hinder the production of medicine in future and also it causes flooding. Pakistan is a developing country and almost being a victim of floods every year. As a nation, we have to face a lot of problems and damages due to floods. Forests reduce the pressure and flow of the water and hence a reduction in losses. Forests are helpful in absorbing the flood water and water gets managed up in a good way.
Deforestation is one of the environmental problems that Pakistan and all over the world is confronting, and this is getting worse as the population and economy of the country are expanding. So far, to tackle this issue, not much is being done because tackling the terrorism issues and the goals of economic growth within the country overthrow the goals of environmental conservation. Although the government of Pakistan and NGOs has taken steps to halt environmental degradation, Pakistan’s environmental issues still remain same. Deforestation may decline the GDP through marine life, rivers, and damage to forests which in return causing flooding and land sliding etc. Annual deforestation rate is 1.68% in the country which is the highest deforestation rate in Asia. Pakistani forests will vanish completely within 35 to 40 years if the government doesn’t take serious steps for protecting trees as well as forests. The death of animals and plants can lead to a partial loss of human life. Deforestation is affecting Pakistan and the whole world as biodiversity extinction, indigenous people annihilation, and global climate change.
Now the question is how to control over deforestation in Pakistan. The government and other environmental protection agencies should play an imperative role by giving an attention on the cutting of forests and make serious efforts to overcome the problem. On the other hand, more and more trees should be planted along the road sides. Tree planting campaigns should be initiated on a national level at regular intervals of time and more than once in a year. This campaign may be more fruitful if awareness spread among the students of schools, colleges, and universities. The government should promote “Green building designs and constructions” for every organization and every organization should have been given an annual target of tree plantation.
Especially, those lands which are cleared along with the residential areas by involving various environmental public private departments by planting the trees and development of public parks. Any organization who is doing well for the environment should be benefited by the government as a reward for example, by giving relaxation in the tax. Other provinces of Pakistan should also follow ‘Tree tsunami’ concept as KPK government announced to plant one billion trees by the end of 2017. If we are very much serious about our environment, then we would have to take small initiatives to achieve the higher goals and long term benefits of economic prosperity.
This article is jointly authored by Rabia Shafqat* and Manan Aslam**- *Student at University of Management and Technology (UMT), Sialkot**Faculty Member at Muhammad Nawaz Shareef University of Agriculture (MNSUAM), Multan.