Sustainable forest governance is only possible if it is rooted from a collective local action, said Professor Babar Shahbaz of University of Agriculture, Faisalabad while addressing a roundtable conference on “Sustainable forest management” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute here on Monday.
Dr Shahbaz said that there is no easy way to overcome the multidimensional problems involved in forest management, as managing natural resource conflict is an integral part of natural resource governance. He said that a mediated policy dialogue is a good way to bring the actors in a natural resource conflict together.
Activist Tahira Abdullah said that forest cover in the country reduced to 2.5 % of total area of Pakistan. She said that use of wood as fuel and its commercial use should be discouraged by imposing taxes. She also highlighted the need of rigorous campaign for strict enforcement of policies to protect forests and promote sustainable forest management policies.
SDPI’s Talimand Khan of SDPI detailing findings and recommendation of district forest assembly and people roundtables held in Hazara and Malakand division criticised forest management policy that puts responsibility to protect forest on communities without imparting any authority to them. He termed these laws as arbitrary, inhumane giving powers of police to forest officials who can even fire and shoot anybody they think suspicious.
SDPI’s Senior Research Associate of Climate Change Study Centre, Shakeel Ahmed, Ramay, said Pakistan is vulnerable to various negative implications of climate change such as droughts, rise in sea level, melting of glaciers and changing weather patterns. He said that according to experts, agricultural production may decrease up to 30% in next 20 years.
Forest community representatives Riaz Muhammad Khan and Amir Muhammad Khan said that timber mafia in compliance with forest officials is behind massive deforestation and basic hindrance in sustainable forest management. They were of the view that both not only sabotage joint forest management committees, but are also responsible for all the hardships being faced by forest communities.
Shah Wazir Khan, Deputy Chief Conservator Forest, KPK, Riaz Muhammad, Sarhad Awami Forest Ittehad and Ameer Muhammad from Sarhad Awami Forest Ittehad (SAFI) and Kanwar Iqbal from SDPI also spoke on the occasion.