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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Forestry Outlook Study reveals that the total area of forests in the country is 4.34 million hectors (ha) which has increased the total green cover of the country to 5.01 percent.

However, out of which 3.44 million ha forests exist on state-owned lands and remaining on communal and private lands.

According to Pakistan Economic Survey (2018-19) launched here by Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, the annual consumption of wood (timber and fuel wood) was estimated at 44 million cubic meters whereas  annual  growth of natural forests was 14.4 mm³,  resulting in over-exploitation of forest resources.

The survey mentioned that moreover the sole dependence of forest owning local communities on this resource for livelihood was reported as main cause of deforestation.

“The contribution of forest in gross domestic product (GDP) is 0.4  percent,” it added.

Under Millennium Development Goals (Goal-7), Pakistan had committed to increase forest cover to 6 percent, which could not be achieved mainly due to financial constraints of federal and provincial governments. “Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) from either bilateral or multilateral sources has also declined drastically impeding government policies and plans to bring additional lands under tree cover,” it noted.

Ministry of Climate Change was implementing following initiatives towards achievement of objectives of the international Conventions and Protocols with the technical and financial support of Global Environment Facility (GEF), UN agencies, World Bank, multilateral donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and public sector development programme (PSDP): Mangrove for the Future (MFF) regional program in collaboration with IUCN-Pakistan, implementation of World Bank funded REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP), preparation and implementation of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, revival of forestry and wildlife resources in Pakistan (Green Pakistan Program), up-scaling of GPP into Ten Billion Tree Tsunami (new initiative), scaling-up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) risk reduction in Northern Pakistan, Reversing Deforestation and degradation in high conservation value pine forests in Pakistan, sustainable Land Management Program to combat desertification in Pakistan (SLMP II) and implementation of Federal Forest Policy 2015.

However, the measures taken to increase forest cover included seasonal tree plantation campaigns. In order to enhance tree cover in the country, seasonal tree planting campaigns held each year and government, private agencies; organizations were actively involved in plantation activities.

During 2018 inter-provincial meetings on the onset of spring 2018 and Monsoon 2018 were held whereby achievement against target fixed for tree planting are as follows:  Mangroves  for  the  Future  (MFF)  initiative which focused  on  promotion  of  an  integrated  ocean  wide approach  to  coastal  zone  management. “Under this initiative more than 30 projects have been completed successfully since its inception,” it added.

Participation in Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+) was also another endeavour depicted into reality where REDD+ was a concept adopted by the countries under United Nations Framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) in 2010. The concept relates to absorption of atmospheric carbon through forest resource. Due to accumulation of carbon in standing trees their financial value increases.  Carbon stoked in forest is traded in carbon markets.

However, the REDD+ Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP) is being implemented in Pakistan with a grant of $3.8 million since July, 2015,” the survey said.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2019