PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa forestry, environment and wildlife has said that the province recorded a 846.5 square kilometres increase in the forest covered area of the province from 2007 to 2018 due to the government’s initiatives.

Official documents available with Dawn showed that the department in collaboration with the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (Suparco) conducted a study regarding ‘quantification and documentation of temporal changes of forest cover’ in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the period from 2007 to 2012 to 2015 to 2017-18 through remote sensing solution and it showed an increase of 846.5 square kilometres in the forest covered area of the province.

They revealed that the ‘growth translated into 1.14 per cent increase in forest cover from 2007 to 2017-18 due to the government’s initiatives’.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government had initiated its flagship Billion Tree Tsunami project in the province in 2014 under which, officials said, over one billion saplings were planted by 2018.

Dept mulling to tap into climate financing, say documents

Official documents available with Dawn said the government needed to enhance its efforts to improve health of forest ecosystems by reducing deforestation and forest degradation and enhancement of forest biomass while ensuring conservation, restoration and re-plantation of forests.

“This means continued financing from the provincial budget and only the KP REDD+ action plan, over the next 10 years, requires Rs2,140 billion,” a document said.

The document said the department was considering a proposal to tap into the national as well as trans-national climate financing — drawn from public, private and alternate sources of financing — that sought to support mitigation and adaptation actions that will address climate change.

It added that the plan’s goal was to harness sustainable finance for the conservation, restoration and re-plantation of forests in the province.

The document said keeping in view the successes of massive afforestation under Billion Tree and now the 10 Billion Tree project (and continuous addition to that number), the increase in protected area/national parks from 10 to over 15.6 per cent (species value for wildlife), and other initiatives, the department was confident of tapping into potential of carbon trading.

According to the document, one of the unexplored avenues was the sale of ‘carbon offsets’ or acquiring ‘carbon credits’.

“There are two types of credits; firstly the Voluntary Emission Reduction, which is a carbon offset that is exchanged in over-the-counter or voluntary market for credits, and secondly certified emissions reduction: Emission units (or credits) created through a regulatory framework with the purpose of offsetting a project’s emissions,” it said.

The document said the voluntary carbon market (VCM) enabled private investors and NGOs to voluntarily purchase carbon offsets to offset their emissions mostly large businesses, which couldn’t otherwise add to their books on reduced emissions and ‘purchase’ carbon offsets to ‘improve’ their stock on that account.

It added that for clarity purposes, a carbon offset broadly referred to a reduction in emissions of green house gases (GHG) – or an increase in carbon storage (e.g. through land restoration or the planting of trees) – that was used to compensate for emissions that occur elsewhere.

“A carbon offset credit is a transferable instrument certified by governments or independent certification bodies to represent an emission reduction of one metric tonne of CO2, or an equivalent amount of other GHGs,” the document said.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2022

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