PESHAWAR, May 18: Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (Safi) has asked the government to take steps for protection of forests and provide alternative energy sources to people at cheaper rates so that they will stop cutting trees.
These views were expressed during a conference here on Wednesday and those who spoke on the occasion included MPA Jaffar Shah, Ameer Mohammad, Riaz Mohammad, Jamshid Khan and Javaid Akhtar.
The representatives of civil society organizations, including Safi, Sungi and SDPI, also attended the conference and gave proposals for preservation of the forests and solution to owners' problems.
The participants discussed issues such as increase in royalty, protection of forests, ownership and new forest marketing policy. They demanded that forest owners' representatives should be taken on board for any legislation about forests, and the Forest Ordinance 2002 be amended by replacing the words beneficiaries as forest owners.
They stressed that people living near forests should be given jobs so that they would not cut trees for earning purposes. They called for opening branches of Pakistan Forest Institute in the areas where forests existed.
The stakeholders suggested that the procedure of marketing ought to be made easy and transparent and the development processes needed to be linked with protection of forests in the particular areas.
They also demanded increase in the forest royalty from 60 to 80 per cent and added that community forestry should be given priority in the new forest policy. They said that all the agreements regarding forest should be made public to remove misunderstandings among forest owners.
MPA Jaffar Shah assured the forest owners that he would pursue their case in the assembly and try to solve their problems.