KARACHI: Climate change has emerged as the biggest threat to Pakistan’s development over the past decade.
One simple but effective strategy to help tackle this challenge is to increase the country’s forest cover that has been reduced to less than two per cent of its land area — one of the lowest in the region.
This was one of the key messages released by the World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF-P) on Tuesday to mark the International Day of Forests.
This year, the theme is forests and energy.
“Pakistan faces a serious challenge in the shape of climate change; the increase in climate-induced natural disasters in the country in recent years points to the severity of this threat.
The intensity of glacial meltdown due to rising temperatures has resulted in destructive floods from 2010 onwards, almost on an annual basis.
“The situation underscores the need for understanding and acknowledging the role forests play in addressing climate change challenge.
“Forests are significant carbon sinks but their rapid conversion to supply key commodities undermines efforts on climate,” stated a WWF-P press release.
It stressed the need for a transformed forest sector to ensure that vulnerable forests are protected from illegal logging, encroachment or conversion, and that there would be no more plantations that displaced communities or took away their livelihoods.
Citing a 2015 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report, the organisation stated that forest cover of Pakistan had been reduced to less than two per cent of its land area.
Similarly, according to projections in the Living Forests Report by the WWF, the amount of wood taken from forests and plantations each year may need to triple by 2050 even with increased recycling, reuse and efficiency.
On public-private efforts to ensure increase in forest cover, the organisation stated that the federal ministry of climate change, through its office of the Inspector General of Forests, was implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Readiness Preparation Project with its support.
The organisation, apart from monitoring the Billion Tree Tsunami Project (BTTP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is also providing expert opinion for the successful implementation of the project.
Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2017