Only 5.2 percent of Pakistan forested, say scientists

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Islamabad, July 28 (ANI): Scientists have said that only 5.2 percent of Pakistan is forested, and the country has an annual deforestation rate of 2.1.

According to Daily Times, these views were expressed by Dr Babar Shahbaz, visiting research fellow at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and a professor at the University of Agriculture, Riaz Ahmed of the Sungi Development Foundation and SDPI Project Coordinator Maqsood Jan at 'Dilemmas in Participatory Forest Management in NWFP - Research Insight', a seminar organised by the SDPI.

Addressing the gathering, SDPI's Talimand Khan said forest management had been a dilemma since partition, with the forest department was still clinging to its colonial command-and-control structure, shifting responsibility to local communities without exercising its authority.

Dr Babar Shahbaz provided an overview of forestry in a historical context and said the current situation of forest utilization in the NWFP was strongly influenced by historical developments that go back to colonial times.

He said that an initial study had been conducted by Dr Urs Geiser from the Zurich University, after which Dr Sultan-e-Rome undertook an in-depth study of forestry in the princely states of Swat and Kalam with a historical perspective on norms and practices.

The research studies provided in-depth analysis and insights of field realities and challenges.

In the livelihood perspective, rural population in the NWFP was often blamed for an over-exploitation of forest resources, which would lead to a destruction of the resource base.

In this context, it is often forgotten that rural people are highly dependent on forest resources such as fuel wood and construction timber, and that alternatives hardly existed. (ANI)

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