Rapid deforestation a cause of concern for Pakistan

LAHORE, May 18 (APP): Rapid deforestation a cause of concern for Pakistan


Environmental experts on Wednesday expressed their concerns over rapid deforestation in the country and called for swift remedial measures.


A senior official of the Punjab government and environmentalist Dr Mehmood Khalid Qamar said the timber mafia's criminal acts and the use of wood for burning purposes  were the main causes of deforestation.


Kashif Salik, a senior climate change researcher, told APP that according to UNESCO's International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, Pakistan's juniper forest is believed to be the world's second largest such reserve, adding that these reserves must be preserved.


Salik said cutting of the juniper forest or trees in Chakwal, Jhelum and Attock were alarming.


"It is illegal to cut down juniper, whether the land is publicly or privately owned," he added.


Meanwhile, a senior official of the Punjab Forestry Department said the government was serious and concerned at rapid deforestation, however, it was making a policy to stop further degradation of the public private sector forests.


While appreciating the government efforts for saving the forest cover, he said if there had not been fear of the government officials, people would cut down the entire forests in just six months, he said.  "The government plans  to strengthen the forestry laws,"he added.


According to the official data, Pakistan has a total forest cover of 4.4 million hectares, and the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year. Also, 53,000 people are directly employed by the forestry sector, while the country has 213 million metric tonnes of carbon stocks in living forest biomass.