ISLAMABAD: The World Bank's programme of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) worth $3.8 million will help boost forest cover and protect and control their shrinkage in Pakistan.
"The World Bank-funded REDD+ programme had already been launched in the country that will help forest owners to access money for forest protection," an official of the ministry of climate change told APP on Wednesday.
"We cannot protect the country from devastating impacts of global warming-induced climate change, as long as our forests continue to remain chopped down.” Forests are the best way to achieve enhanced climate resilience against fallouts of the climate change impacts, the official said. "REDD+ is an UN-led mechanism that aims for countries' efforts to reduce heat trapping carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and foster conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
He said international studies show that deforestation and land degradation accounts for a major share in the overall global carbon emissions annually.
"Most people assume that global warming is caused by burning oil, gas and coal. But in fact between 25 and 30 percent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year or estimated 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide - is caused by deforestation, mainly the cutting and burning of forests, every year.”
However, 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, the official added.
Quoting studies of the UN's Food and Agriculture (FAO), he said trees are 50 percent carbon. But when they are chopped down or burned, the carbon dioxide they store makes its way back into the air.
Besides, around 13 million hectares of forests worldwide are lost annually, almost entirely in the tropics, most of it occurs in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. 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 are among major causes of deforestation in the country.
However, the official said, "Controlling deforestation in the country is not possible without increasing access to renewable and alternative energy sources, particularly for cooking and heating in households, reducing occurrence of land erosion and landslides by strengthening forested mountain slopes with vegetation cover and increasing public awareness about positive effects of forests on overall environment, human health and biodiversity."
He also 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 at halting deforestation and inject new life in the ailing forestry sector.