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Pakistan Observer

Published Date: Apr 16, 2014

Deforestation in no way can help reduce poverty

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government is planning to increase forest area in the province to some 30,000 hectares and improve tree cover over 25,000 hectares of existing forests per annum under the Green Growth Initiative. This was said by Dr Urs Geiser Senior Researcher, Department of Geography, University of Zurich at the launch of book organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) Tuesday.

The subject book "Forests, Livelihoods and Power Relations in North-West Pakistan" takes a social science perspective to identify and analyze some main factors responsible for depletion of natural forests of KP.

The insights presented in this book mainly emerged through a research study conducted by the Pakistan Research Group of the Switzerland-based National Center for Competence in Research (NCCR) North-South.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Geiser who is also co-author of the book highlighted a number of issues that cause the unsustainable management of forest depletion of KP. Among them are the mistrust between local people and forest officials, lack of funds, poor resources allocation, the uncertain legal framework, timber mafia and the top-down implementation of joint forest management experiments.

According to him, there is a dire need of stakeholders’ input, political pressure from civil society, introduction reforms in KP forest laws and transparency in the use of aid by the donor.

Dr Abid Qayyium Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI (co-author of the book) said that deforestation can never be a solution to poverty issue. He quoted an example of New Murree Project which has not made a difference in poverty reduction, on the other hand, it has affected environment crucially.

Hakeem Shah, Director General, Pakistan Forest Institute, Peshawar called for integrated approach. Role of youth and women is also very effective for this cause. The green growth initiative would make it possible for the provincial government to increase the forest cover by two per cent in as many years from the existing 20pc to 22pc in 2015.

While giving the overview of book, Dr Babar Shahbaz, Visiting Fellow, SDPI and Assistant Professor, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad (co-author of the book) said the book urged all the stakeholders to analyze the conflicts to find explanations for continued overexploitation of forests in KP.