The Forestry Sector Master Plan has estimated that Pakistan is suffering an annual loss of 2.3 billion rupees as a result of flooding, erosion of fertile soil from upland watersheds and siltation of reservoirs and irrigation system.
It is well-known that global warming is being caused largely due to emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. However, what is not known quite as well is that deforestation has a direct association with carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Forest as Carbon Sinks
Forests act as a major storage depot for carbon and they represent the most significant terrestrial carbon stock as they contain 77% all carbon stored in vegetation and 39% of all carbon stored in soils.
It has also been estimated that forests sequester and store more carbon (per hectare) than any other type of land cover since they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which is then used to produce carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that makeup trees.
Effects of Deforestation
Increasing CO2 Concentration
When deforestation occurs, many of the trees are burnt or they are allowed to rot, which results in releasing the carbon that is stored in them as carbon dioxide. This, in turn, leads to greater concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Imbalance in Nature
This dissolute actions of deforestation by mankind are causing an intolerable imbalance in nature, and are a major factor leading to climate change, extinction of rare animals, desertification, and displacement of the population.
Deforestation is also one of the major causes of a disturbed water cycle, global warming, and soil erosion.
Deforestation in Pakistan
Forest Cover in Pakistan
Presently, Pakistan serving as a forest-poor country. The Worldwide recommended level for forests is 20-25 per cent of land area whereas in our country only about 4.34 million ha (4.8 per cent) of its total land area is under forests, out of which 3.44 million ha are state-owned; tree cover on farmlands and private forests is 0.781 million ha (0.887 per cent).
Natural Forests, Irrigated Plantation, and Rangelands
Natural forests accounted for 4.2 million ha (4.8 per cent), irrigated plantations occupied 103,000 ha (0.117 per cent) and rangelands covered 28.507 million ha (32.4 per cent) out of the total land area of 87.98 million ha (879,800 km2).
Forest Cover in Provinces
The fraction of land area under forest cover in different parts of the country also varies a great deal: Balochistan: 0.7%, Punjab: 2.8%, Sindh: 2.8%, Northern Areas: 9.5%, KP: 16.6%, Azad Jammu and Kashmir: 20.7%.
Effects of Deforestation on Pakistan
The Forestry Sector Master Plan has estimated that the country is suffering an annual loss of 2.3 billion rupees as a result of flooding, erosion of fertile soil from upland watersheds and siltation of reservoirs and irrigation system.
Despite having miserably low forest cover, the deforestation and forest degradation have reached levels which society considers unacceptable; as past trends and the current state of forests and forestry indicate that large-scale deforestation and degradation of natural forests have occurred.
It continues unabatedly at the rate of 0.75 per cent per year (FAO 2007) due to many direct and underlying causes. These facts about deforestation are leading the country towards devastation and desolation.
The Solution to Deforestation in Pakistan
As it is a need of the hour to keep a check on such activities before it is too late to act so here is a solution that can help save our country from the harmful effects of deforestation.
REDD and REDD+
Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) is a programme, attempts to recognize the role of forests in climate change mitigation. It aims to create financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development.
REDD+ goes beyond deforestation and forest degradation and includes the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks.
Pakistan has already joined the UN-REDD Programme in 2011, but still, there is a dire need of the hour to launch a more REDD+ project in Pakistan because these would not only help to conserve biodiversity and secure vital ecosystem services but contribute to increased resilience to climate change.
Thus it can be argued that the benefits from ecosystem services will far exceed the income from logging, however strong political commitment and complete transformation of the forestry sector will be necessary for REDD to be a success in Pakistan.
Let us know what do you think how Deforestation can be controlled in Pakistan and Forest Cover can be increased?