Experts call for re-vitalising forestry sector

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LAHORE, Aug 13 (APP): Experts and environmentalists on
Sunday called for taking concrete measures to boost Pakistan’s
climate resilience by re-vitalising forestry sector.
Talking to APP, the forest experts said that if the process
of cutting down trees continued, nobody could save the country
from the devastating impact of global warming and the induced
climate change.
Noted environmentalist Dr Maqsood Ahmed said that forests
were the best way to achieve enhanced climate resilience
against fallouts of the climate change impacts.
“Most people believe that global warming is caused by
burning oil, gas and coal. But, in fact, between 25 and 30
per cent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere
each year or estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide,
is caused by deforestation, mainly due to cutting and burning
of forests, every year,” Dr Maqsood added.
He said that the same amount of carbon climate-altering
carbon-dioxide gases, released from fossil fuel burning
through any source, can be removed from the atmosphere to
stabilise the climate change by halting deforestation.
Prominent forest expert Professor Dr Sarwat Naz Mirza
said that studies of the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) revealed
that trees consisted of 50 per cent of carbon deposits.
“But when they are chopped down or burned, the carbon
dioxide they store makes its way back into the air,” he added.
To a question, he said that around 13 million hectares
of forests worldwide were being lost annually, almost entirely
in the tropics; most of it occurs in Africa, Latin America and
Southeast Asia.
Fakhar-e-Abbas, a scientist at the Pakistan Agricultural
Research Council said that according to UNESCO’s International
Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme,
Pakistan’s juniper forest was believed to be the world’s second
largest such reserve.
He said that clearing of juniper forest or trees was alarming
as these were being replaced by orchards.
To a query, Abbas said that it was illegal to cut down
juniper, whether the land is publicly or privately owned.
However, he said that comprehensive data or estimation
of the amount of juniper forest being cleared each year, was
not available. “The problems facing the forest are ecological
and environmental as well as economic,” he said.
He said that juniper trees were being infected with fungus
and bacteria due to inbreeding.
A senior official in the Ministry of Climate Change
(MoCC) told APP that the imcumbent government with the help of
World Bank-funded US$3.8 million, REDD+ programme, has already
been launched in the country.
He said that this programme would help forest owners to
access money for forest protection and controlling their
shrinkage.
The official further said that lack of access to energy
for cooking and heating in households, illegal tree cutting,
population growth and associated wood demand surge, changes in
land cover for non-forestry uses, land erosion and degradation
were among major causes of deforestation in the country.
He urged the provincial and federal representatives of
the forest departments to join the climate change ministry’s
efforts for implanting national forest policy that aims to
halt deforestation and inject new life in the ailing forestry
sector.
According to official data, Pakistan has total forest
cover of 4.4 million hectares, and the current rate of
deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, he added.
He said around 53,000 Pakistanis were directly employed
in the forestry sector, while the country has 213 million
metric tonnes of carbon stocks in living forest biomass.