Survival threats to forests
WITH ONE of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, Pakistans forests are in urgent need of protection and conservation. The country is a semi arid country with less than 4 per cent of its area under forest cover. At the global level, WWF is lobbying governments to establish an ecologically representative network of protected areas covering at least 10 per cent of each of the worlds forest types. Forests make environment clean and act as a buffer zone for cities, societies and towns. We have a very less amount of trees which can provide fresh air so we are already few steps back. Unfortunately, in Pakistan forests were neither conserved nor is any new planning under consideration.
The major threat to these forests is uncontrolled and unsustainable cutting. Reasons for unsustainable commercial harvesting in state forests are:
•Lack of political will and commitment
• Poor planning
• Unrealistic forest working plans
• Weak implementation of forest protection laws
A large population of Pakistan is still using wood as a source of fuel. So we need instant measures in this regard for sustained supply of fuel in futures and in the presence lack of government policies we will kill this source for consumers. To make the earth sustainable, the government needs to make a serious commitment in this regard.
Global warming is going much faster, causing catastrophic weather events. Im not sure if this can be stopped now. Im not even sure if we can adapt to the change as quickly. The floods of the kind that hit Pakistan may become more frequent and more intense in future in this and other parts of the world. There is an enough evidence to show an increase in the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts and extreme precipitation events worldwide.
Ejaz Ahmad, Deputy Director of the World Wildlife Fund Pakistan, links weather changes to change in land use patterns, heavy deforestation in the northern parts of Pakistan and the conflicts rather than to climate change. Still, he agrees that there have been more weird weather events of late.
Pakistan had experienced a dry spell last March with hardly any rainfall and wheat production was seriously damaged. Then it rained in the areas which do not come under the monsoon range such as Gilgit-Baltistan, Broghil, Similarly, the frequency of cyclones has also increased, A year ago wehad received the Yemyin cyclone and then this year we had the Phet cyclone. In the past, we would experience cyclones (only) in decades.
We need a PPP (public private partnership) in this regard between the government and a private organization which can grow a large amount of forest land which can be used as sustainable forests are the result of a commonsense policy to replace trees that are felled so that forests continue to existing and providing natural materials for us all. Sustainable forests can only survive if they make a profit and provide employment, often for local people. The type of employment available will include work related directly to managing and maintaining the forests but also jobs related to the tourism industry. This will include the hotel and catering industry. We have few examples in Pakistan like Changa Manga Forest.
Funds can be utilized in this sector with a joint venture of government to allocate an area for a lease of 20-25 years so that we get enough number of trees and an ecosystem for all biodiversity which will be green and a positive start of a country like us. Bring private parties in it so that more employment is generated and we can enhance the quality of air in Pakistan. Make more buffer zones around the most polluted industrial cities and stop increasing the size of urban areas. We also need new cities in Pakistan to balance the load of population in urban cities. We cannot stop the rapid urbanization but we can control and manage it in a proper way.
Our focus should be to make a city where resources will be managed properly and efficiently and at the same time less pollution causing substances will be used. Our aim should be to establish and promote the idea of “Green City” where sewage will be handled properly, concept of renewable energy will be introduced and resources will not be exploited.
We need effective forest management, reforestation, sustainable development, and farming to control the present pollution level.
Forests on federal and state lands are usually managed according to multiple use doctrine. This means that in addition to forest harvest, the land is available for recreation and maintains a healthy forest ecosystem. Managing to protect biodiversity and to restore pre-settlement conditions are relatively recent goals. In many parts of the world forests may be used by local people for subsistence hunting, forest harvest, and as a place to live. These people add yet more considerations, and more stakeholders, to the challenge of forest management.
• Forest ecosystems provide valuable human products and ecosystem services
• Deforestation has already removed about half of the worlds forests, and in your lifetime threatens to eliminate most of the remaining tropical forests. Many temperate forests are re-growing, however,
• Forests are managed for multiple uses, to restore as much of possible of natural ecosystem function, and in some cases to attempt to restore “old-growth” or pre-disturbance conditions
The writer is an Environmental Engineer at Descon Engineering