Pakistan’s deficit of 2 trillion trees

PAKISTAN has undergone increased deforestation which poses grave threats not only to the environment but also to our economy. The country’s hills were once home to endless stretches of pine and fir but today its forest cover is below two percent. In the United States, that number is roughly 33 percent and in India 23 percent.
According to a report by Washington Post’s Max Bearak, Pakistan needs to plant between 1.5 and 2 trillion saplings to reverse deforestation. The forest change for Pakistan is an eye-opener because the total tree cover loss between 2000 and 2013 is shown as 10,022.4 hectare while the gain is 847.3 hectare. This comparison indicates a loss of forests that cannot be recovered over time. This warrants a higher level of actions by the public, NGOs and private organizations. According to environmentalists, most of this loss has been observed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa followed by Azad Jammu and Kashmir. Timber gangs operate freely in many parts of the country, profiting from illegal logging often with the backing of local officials – and that poses a big problem for fledgling efforts to stem deforestation. Every Province has its own forest laws, intended to regulate forest conservation and timber harvesting according to local needs but as is the norm in our country, these are routinely ignored often with the connivance of politicians, some of whom encourage their constituents to clear forest, sell the wood and turn the land into profitable plots for construction or other purposes. All this is playing havoc with the environment where the effects of climate change are already visible with extreme heat waves and severe flooding taking a heavy toll. Each year we see the tree plantation campaigns launched by the VVIPs with Capital Development Authority also fixing the target to plant millions of saplings but we are seeing little results of these campaigns as nothing concrete is done for the preservation and protection of the trees. Whether it’s the ongoing one billion tree Tsunami campaign of PTI government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or the ‘Green Pakistan Programme’ of the Federal government, we believe these are good omen but holistic and concrete steps are required to check the cutting of forests while rising above mere slogans. An across the board action should be taken against the timber mafia as these handful of elements cannot be allowed to play with the future of the country.

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