• Taimur Chambers Plot # 10-D (WEST), Fazal-ul-Haq Rd, Islamabad
  • (+92) 51-2278134, (+92) 51-2278135
  • Taimur Chambers Plot # 10-D (WEST), Fazal-ul-Haq Rd, Islamabad
  • (+92) 51-2278134, (+92) 51-2278135

Policy Recommendations Details

Key Recommendations:

  • Forest department in consultation and coordination with all stakeholders, should execute integrated land use planning for development and clearly demarcate areas under forests, settlements and agricultural lands.
  • After massive Floods in 1992, government planned policy interventions to cope with floods and address deforestation, considered to be the major cause behind 1992 floods in the area. These steps included immediate ban on harvesting of trees, laying emphasize on reforestation, restocking and capacity building of forest department as well as local communities.  Government could not implement this policy as a whole and was only able to put ban on harvesting of trees. This partial implementation stimulated corruption and virtually backfired, as the weak enforcement encouraged timber mafia towards illegal logging on unprecedented scale while forest communities were made to suffer by denying them their due royalty, livelihood opportunities and wood for subsistence use. This policy of ban on harvesting of trees should be removed immediately.
  • Royalty of timber is another complicated issue that needs to be settled. Currently the forest department is paying multiple rates of royalty in different areas such as 80% royalty in Indus Kohistan in Hazara division, while only 60% in Sultan Khel and  Paida Khel in Dir district, which is discrimination on part of government with those communities. Then there is also lack of transparency in reimbursement of this royalty involving corruption, delayed payments and sometime sale of royalty rights to the contractors.  Government must look into it and ensure transparent disbursement of royalty.
  • We need innovative approaches to address climate change especially in forestry sector and forest management. Reforestation can be a good option to help cope with climate change affects as according to an estimate, around 42%  of forest area alone in Swat Kohistan is rangelands/wasteland. These range lands can be made more beneficial by reforestation that would significantly improve the situation.
  • Forest Act promulgated in year 2002 has still not been translated in letter and spirit. Basic aspiration of the act was participatory forest management involving forest communities and eliminating the role of contractors but still it is dictated by forest officials with an increased role of contractors in the forestry. Joint Forest Management Committees (JFMCs) are in-active and in-effective, and are also prone to the discretionary powers of District Forest Officer (DFO), who can dissolve these committees.  So it is suggested to shift towards participatory forest management approach in true sense with a review of Joint Forest Management Committees’ system (JFMCs).
  • Forest reforms agenda is making rounds since nineties and although it has taken some shape in 1999 and 2002 but still these reforms are not implemented. Roundtable conferences and forest commission at provincial level, proposed in reforms are still a far cry. There is also lack of transparency in Forest Development Funds which needs to be rationalized and spent appropriately in consultation with local communities. Reforms agenda must also address current approach of considering forestry as a revenue generation sector, instead of accepting its role as a conservator providing services for protection of criticaly endangered environmental assets.
  • Malakand division was badly affected by recent floods in 2010 and also bore the brunt of war against extremism with colossal damages to its public infrastructure, livelihood system and socio-economic fabric. It must be ensured that rehabilitation plans in the area must not put additional pressure on forests and make it essential to include environment as a priority agenda and integral part of rehabilitation plans for the purpose of sustainable development.
  • Resolution of ownership and forest use issues need to be attended on immediate basis. The forest communities reject current policy, which declares owners of the forest as concessionary users. They demand full ownership status while asking government to act only as a regulator. Also there is no clear demarcation between reserve and Guzara forests. There is tremendous increase in population of Swat in recent years but the amount of local quota of timber for the subsistence use of local people did not change since 1974. The local quota of timber should match the needs of the local people. Until and unless the forests department caters to the subsistence needs of local people, sustainable forest management is not possible.
  • In past few decades, coniferous forests in the area have depleted rapidly, converting vast areas of forest cover into wastelands. Those crown tree forests are now hard to restore, as they require extraordinary resources, skills, resolve, and coordinated effort for prolonged period of time. Hence focus of reforestation in these waste lands should be shifted towards plantation of fruit trees and orchards.  According to an estimate around 100,000 acre of land is available for such interventions like olive and fruit trees plantation in orchards. These orchards would not only contribute to environment as a quick alternate to forests but also provide value addition and sustainable livelihood to local communities.
  • Community forestry is the best solution available for sustainable forest management. This is amply proved from the fact that private forests in the region are best protected while forest department has failed to protect its forest from deforestation. It is suggested that the communities who efficiently preserved their forests and improved existing natural resources should be encouraged and provided priority incentives integrated with development.
  • Reforestation or aforestation should be made compatibile with climate change with creative and transparent use of resources, especially of financial resources. i.e Eucalyptus was planted in some areas of Swat to cope with issue of deforestation. This incompatible plantation later resulted in gradual dryness of springs in various localities due to excessive consumption of water by Eucalyptus trees. It is also suggested that special focus should be given on water shed management and elaborate programmes should be launched for improving the water shed management and capacity building of community and government departments.
  • Rangelands often get less attention and considered to be a less prioritized area with respect to forestry. Government should also give proper attention on planning to improve rangelands and grazing areas. An appropriate approach can be to lease out the land to local communities for protection, preservation, improvisation and their subsistence use to gratify local needs.
  • Local forest communities have centuries old folk wisdom pertaining to forestry. This traditional knowledge must be glued with modern technical skills, practices and approaches for a better and sustainable forest management. It is therefore recommended that sub campuses of forest institute must be established in Batgram, Dir and Swat to impart training, technical skills and contemporary knowledge to the communities.
  • Government must also take measures to reduce dependency of local communities on forests for fulfilling their energy needs. They can be provided with alternate source of energy and provision of livelihood opportunities to safeguard timber logging. 
  • Commercial use of wood should be discouraged by imposing heavy taxation.

These recommendations were presented by speakers mentioned below at a recent roundtable discussion on sustainable forest management held in Islamabad.

Tile of the Event: A Stakeholders' Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Forest Management

Date Monday: June 27, 2011

Speakers:

  • Dr. Babar Shahbaz, Professor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
  • Mr. Shakeel Ahmed Ramay, Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Centre, SDPI
  • Mr. Kanwar Muhammad Javed Iqbal, Coordinator, PCI, SDPI
  • Mr. Talimand Khan, Coordinator, PAMS, SDPI
  • Mr. Shah Wazir Khan, Deputy Chief Conservator Forest Department, KPK
  • Mr. Riaz Muhammad, Sarhad Awami Forestry  Itehad (SAFI)
  • Mr. Ameer Muhammad, Sarhad Awami Forestry Itehad (SAFI)
  • Ms. Tahira Abdullah, Renowned Social activist