ISLAMABAD: Pakistan was strongly committed towards promoting such forest-based actions that shall address the challenges of climate change, water scarcity and land degradation, a government minister said.
“Forests in Pakistan play an important role in protection and enhancement of ecological, economic and social functions,” said Mushahidullah Khan, minister for climate change, at a discussion titled “Forest-based solutions for accelerating achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)” during the 13th Session of United Nations Forum on Forests in New York.
“We have taken various initiatives to protect our forests that include approval of National Forest Policy-2015 that suggests measures to conserve existing forest and increase tree cover on a massive scale with community involvement, particularly on communal lands and urban areas.”
The climate minister said the government of Pakistan aimed to curb deforestation by improving coordination among all provinces and inter-linking natural forests, protected areas, and wildlife habitats to reduce fragmentation.
He also highlighted that approval of National Climate Change Policy-2012 of Pakistan also supported the role of forests as carbon sinks and towards mitigating adverse effects of extreme climate events.
“Initiation of “Green Pakistan Programme” to support achievement of forest policy objectives to afforest deficient areas spread across the whole country with 100 million plants. All segments of society have been involved in planting and regeneration activity across country,” Khan told the audience.
He also emphasised that government was promoting ecological, social and cultural functions of forests through “Sustainable Land Management Programme”, which supported preparation and implementation of plans at local level to control land degradation and desertification.
“We are executing projects REDD plus (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) and mangroves are improving through “Sustainable Forest Management Project”, he said adding spring and monsoon tree planting campaigns were coordinated at the national level to plant on an average 80 million plants each year.
The climate change minister said a comprehensive programme on floodwater management would be implemented with the support of Green Climate Fund.
“Efforts are being made to regulate flow of water in the catchment areas by increasing vegetation cover, soil conservation measures, and construction of small dams,” Khan said.
He said Pakistan considered that forestry sector needed a central body to develop strategies for sustainable development of this sector in future.
“Pakistan has two tiers of governance according to constitution; forestry being provincial domain while ministry of climate change provides the vital link and coordination between provinces and international community / treaties,” the minister said.
Speaking on major gaps and challenges that limit the contribution of forests to the achievement of the SDGs, he said Pakistan is predominantly a dry country, with about 80 percent of its area falling in semi-arid and arid region.
“The changes in water regime, due to change in weather patterns pose additional threats in the form of droughts and resultant desertification,” he said.
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