Forest Policies and Policy Implementation
This section gives a brief overview of the policies that remained active in Pakistan. Historically most of policy initiatives were aimed at forest protection and conservation and largely ignored the provisions for community participation or participatory forest management. The mindset behind such policies was to see communities as intruders (Nizami, 2012; Shahbaz, 2009. Shahbaz and Ali, 2009; Ali, 2010; Ali, 2009; Nyborg, 2002). However, the continuous degradation of forests suggested that the management results were not essentially in Favour of the resources nor people (RRI, 2013, Fischer et al 2010; FAO, 2010; FAO 2007; Ahmad and Mahmood, 1998).
Forestry Sector in Pakistan need legal reforms
In 1947, Pakistan adopted the Indian Forest Act 1927 and renamed it as the Pakistan Forest Act Since then, most of the provincial forest departments, such as GB, Punjab, Sindh, and partly Balochistan, are using this act as their principal legal framework to manage forest resources. KP and AJK have made necessary changes to the act through the KP Forest Ordinance 2002 and the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Regulation (Amendment) Act 2017.
The current national forest policy was approved in 2015. It provides new concepts such as sustainable forest management, stakeholder participation, biodiversity conservation, and promotion of ecological, social, and cultural functions. In addition, other sectoral policies like the National Climate Change Policy 2012 and the National Environment Policy 2005 also recognize the importance of forest conservation measures. Similarly, draft national wetland and wildlife policies are in line with the objectives of national forest policy. Also, approved strategies and plans like Mangroves for the Future (MFF) and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) to implement provisions under CBD are supportive to the overall objective of the
national forest policy.
Pakistan has submitted its updated NDCs (Nationally Determined Contributions) to combat climate change related negative impacts (MOCC, 2021). Under this submission, the country intends to reduce up to 50% of its 2030 projected GHG emissions with a 15% reduction using the country’s own resources and an additional 35% subject to the availability of international financial support. The targets include sequestering 148.76 MtCO2e emissions over the next ten years through the Ten Billion Trees Tsunami Programme (TBTTP), and in the short-term enhancing protected areas from 12% to 15% in 2023. The important component of the updated NDC submitted to UNFCCC is to adopt a path of clean energy and strengthen its poorly managed forestry sector. The guiding policy documents in this regard are National Climate Change Policy 2012 (revised in 2021) and National Forest Policy 2015 providing a framework for addressing the challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation in Pakistan. Pakistan also adopted the
Sustainable Development Goals. Pakistan is one of the few countries that achieved ‘Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action’ in 2020. This goal is not so much related to specific climate mitigation or adaption targets; those are left to the NDC. It rather refers to laying the foundation to achieve the targets of the NDC. It includes knowledge and capacity building activities on climate change and climate related disasters, the integration of climate change measures in policies and planning (PC-1s), as well as the implementation of UNFCCC (action plan for NDC) and the promotion of mechanisms to raise capacity for management and planning (number of capacity building activities).
Sub-national Forest Policies
KP, Punjab, and Sindh provinces have approved forest policies, which were promulgated in 1999 and 2019, respectively. Forest policy formulation process in Balochistan and GB has been initiated recently, whereas a revised draft forest policy 2019 is under implementation in AJK (Table 2).
The basic goal of these sub-national approved and draft policies is to put Pakistan on a sustainable forest management path. The progress in this regard should be measured through improvement in the health of forests and increase in forest cover. Other sub national policy instruments and plans such as policies on wildlife, climate change, environment, and provincial biodiversity strategies and action plans are also important building blocks to support management of forests on sustainable basis. In case of KP the forest department has a challenge ahead to integrate management of the forests of the newly merged districts (erstwhile FATA) in its policies and operations.
Pakistan’s recently developed national forest policy is an attempt to align with country’s national needs and international obligation. The process of alignment and harmonization for and among various frame conditions relevant to forest resources may be needed at sub national level.
Table 2: National and Sub-national Forest Policies in Pakistan
At level of objectives, all sub-national forest policies mention the importance of sustainable forest management and forest use broader than timber production. They refer directly or indirectly to biodiversity conservation and addressing climate change. They also state that they contribute to
meeting national and international commitments. In GB and Balochistan where policy development is in process, the protection function of forests has been highlighted for fragile watersheds and for poor communities.