Deforestation in Pakistan: Disastrous consequences

Deforestation in Pakistan: Disastrous consequences

LAHORE: Environmental and forest experts on Sunday expressed concerns over rapid deforestation in Pakistan, which was depriving the country of forests on 27,000 hectares land annually.

The experts said that due to cutting of trees, climate change issue was worsening and reaching alarming levels. Environmental experts said that according to official data, the country has a total forest cover of 4.4 million hectares, and the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year.

Deputy Director Ministry of Climate Change Muhammad Saleem Sheikh said that due to massive cutting of trees, temperature in various parts of the country was rising. He said that temperatures in most of mountainous valleys never used to go beyond 30 degree Celsius during summers. But, now it was surpassing 40 degree Celsius at times.

To a question, he said that the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) was playing a key role in planting trees across the country to overcome environmental issues, being faced by the country.

Manager Conservation World Wide Fund for Conservation of Nature (WWF), Pakistan Chapter, Humera Aysha said that due to felling of trees, temperature was increasing and causing glacial melting. That's why snow-line of glaciers was marching upwards, she added.

"This means that ablation zones are increasing and accumulation zones of the glaciers reducing," she added.

To a question, Humera Aysha said that the vision of Prime Minister for Green Pakistan Programme was to turn the country green on the lines of Great Green Wall of China, and we all should join hands for this great cause.

Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) expert on environment Kashif Salik said that we should raise awareness on how forests were essential for the bio-diversity conservation and improved water resource management. He emphasised the importance of afforestation on a large scale.

Expressing concern over rapid deforestation, Salik said the government should evolve a comprehensive policy to control environmental degradation.

He urged all departments concerned to take concrete steps to stop deforestation and eco-degradation.

Prominent environmentalist Mehmood Khalid Qamar said that deforestation was causing climate hazards. He mentioned that rapid tree cutting was the main cause of serious climate change, which include sea-level rise, floods, higher than average temperatures, a higher frequency of droughts and expanding desertification.

"The climate change-related disasters, particularly riverine and flash floods, cause around four billion dollars of losses annually in economic damages, most of them related to agriculture, water, irrigation, health, education, energy and public infrastructure sectors," he added.