This chapter presents an overview of the gaps identified in technical forest management, strategies, extension systems and organizational capacities described earlier.
Table of Contents
Legal context of forests and forest management
The legal framework for forest management in Pakistan is defined within the provinces as forest management is a provincial subject under the Constitution. Main objectives of forest management include conservation and exploitation of the forests. The Acts pertaining to forest management generally date back to pre-independence period. Out of six sub national entities, AJK, KP and GB have their independent forest legislation. Punjab and Sindh are managing their forestry through the enforcement of Forest Act 1927, whereas in Balochistan, both Forest Regulation 1890 and Forest Act 1927 are enforced.
The new realities including climate change, loss of biodiversity, increasing emphasis on collaborative forest management and international obligation related to forest and wildlife conservation and climate change, require a fundamental review of legislation related to forest and wildlife the acts in all provinces, Important issues of the review include revisiting objectives of forest management that address collaborative forest management, benefit sharing with forest stakeholders including local communities and defining carbon rights, benefit sharing, and carbon trading.
Policies and policy implementation
In Pakistan forest policies are developed at two levels: federal and provincial level.
The National Forest Policy (NFP) 2015 provides a basis for the Federal Government to arrange and extend support to all provinces towards achieving their respective targets and meeting international obligations through capacity building and financial support. The policy framework outlines possible sources of financing through a) allocations through PSDP funding for Provincial afforestation programmes and projects, b) mobilization of international financial resources from multilateral and bilateral sources, and c) accessing possible results-based payments under REDD+. Although the NFP 2015 was formulated through stakeholder consultation, the ownership of the policy at sub-national level is relatively low. This is because of the perception that selected non-forestry actors working at the national level were engaged in policy formulation which resulted in incorporating a narrative more tilted towards international obligations than practical issues at the provincial level.
The provinces also regretted devolution of the Pakistan Forest Institute. A better approach would have been to retain PFI as a national institution while strengthening research capacities to cater to the needs of provinces.
Of all six sub-national entities three provinces, i.e., KP, Punjab and Sindh have approved forest policies. KP must revisit its policies in view of the merger of FATA with KP and emergence of new concepts particularly REDD+. AJK revised its draft forest policy (2014) in 2019. Balochistan and GB reported that their provincial forest policies are under preparation. Principles of sustainable/ collaborative/ participatory forest management have been incorporated in new policies. However, existing forestry legislations do not support these approaches. Revision of legislation to incorporate sections to address these approaches and remove sections that support top-down forest management practices is necessary. There should also be coherence among national and sub-national level forest polices to address local needs and realities and harmonizing them across the different sectors.
Technical management of forests
Forest management systems being applied in provinces vary depending on the forest classification and rights/ ownership/ tenures regimes in the respective provinces. The management systems are developed based on the legal categories and vegetation types in line with the management objectives of the forest area. The forest management plans, the so-called working plans, are very much (timber) production oriented. This system continues despite the ban on cutting timber. Although these plans include some conservation aspects (mainly protection against harvesting by others) they lack an integrated approach of natural resource management for multiple objectives.
Since the imposition of ban on green felling in 1992, the forest management priorities have changed from traditional wood harvesting centric management to conservation. In the conventional system, the resource was mainly seen from the perspective of revenue generation. Under the changed dynamics forestry is seen as an important component of the natural ecosystem in which forest ecosystem services and biodiversity loss are placed on top of the natural resource conservation agenda.
Progressively, the role of forests in mitigating climate change is being realized by professionals and policy makers. All sub-national forest departments have started focusing on carbon sequestration and protective functions of forest ecosystems, instead of timber harvesting as their prime function. The challenge ahead is to integrate these notions in forest resource management plans.
In comparison with other allied sectors like wildlife and agriculture, adoption of new technology in the forestry sector at a very slow pace. Mostly forest management practices, such as nursery raising, planting techniques, monitoring systems, and irrigation methods are based on conventional patterns. The ongoing technological advances and their increased uses in the field of forestry provide opportunities and solutions to challenges, such as use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) and GIS for forestry planning and monitoring. At the same time these developments hint on issues regarding institutional capacity and competences within the forest departments to adopt these technological innovations. Increased access to these technologies
may enable forestry departments to use them for better decision-making and forestry planning. The pace to adopt these new gadgets and techniques for technical and extension systems in the forestry institutions is slow. Application of GPS and GIS is taking root in the provinces especially in KP GB and Punjab. Balochistan and AJK have established GIS labs. Taking benefit of this technology however will need restructuring departments to recruit subject specialists at senior and junior levels. This has been highlighted in the relevant section on human resources. Just establishing labs and recruiting a GIS specialist never to be promoted to senior level will not solve the problem.
Forestry extension and outreach
Forestry extension, particularly those aspects related to engagement of communities and the private sector in forest management, is not mainstreamed in the operations of the sub-national forest departments. Extension is not seen as an integral part of the job descriptions of forestry
staff. It is rather seen as an additional task. KP province has taken legal and structural steps to make it mandatory for the department to ensure participation. Community Participation Rules 2004 (including rules for Joint Forest Management) and a separate directorate for Community
Development, Extension, Gender, and Development (CDEGAD) which largely caters for mainstreaming participatory approaches. Punjab recently created a forestry extension wing and Sindh has a separate social forestry wing. These initiatives are mostly targeted at increasing tree cover on farmlands and urban areas. Their focus on mainstreaming of participatory approaches in forest management is limited.
For extension and outreach various tools are being used including use of print and electronic media, social media, periodical consultative meetings, self-learning curricula to promote public awareness. At national and sub-national levels an outreach plan focusing on the importance of
forests and its role in climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation and geared to a diverse group of stakeholders is lacking. However, a Strategic Communication Plan has been prepared under REDD+ project targeting awareness, outreach and capacity building of various stakeholders.
In view of REDD+, sub-national forestry departments lack or have limited dedicated and trained long-term extension staff and outreach strategies. Capacity gaps among staff (both including territorial and extension related staff) responsible for engaging with communities, private sector and other target groups are required to be addressed.
Virtually no linkages exist between forest research institutions and the implementing forest departments. Linkages with national and international institutions promoting participatory approaches are needed for capacity building of forestry staff. Further, the curricula of forestry education and research institutions need revision to accommodate the emerging needs of the forestry sector regarding climate change and forestry extension.
Organizational roles and responsibilities
At federal level the MoCC is responsible for national policy formulation and coordination. OIGF within MoCC has the mandate to support the sub-national entities for strengthening of their institutional capability and expertise with the assistance of national and international agencies or
donor funded projects.
The sub-national forest departments are mainly responsible to manage, conserve and enhance forestry resources in the country for sustainable development. Other functions include management of watersheds to conserve soil and water, management of rangelands to boost production of forage and livestock, promotion of agroforestry and farm forestry on private lands, provide technical services, and training in various disciplines of forestry. State controlled forests are managed, protected, and conserved through a regulatory and punitive legislative framework. Public ownership and public participation in management of the forests is largely lacking for which the forest departments need to align legislation and develop additional skills and manpower. The role and responsibilities of the forest departments in communal and private (except guzara) forests is also important. The departments provide technical advice and develop management plans especially where commercial harvesting is carried out. For example, in GB the department charges 20% of the sale proceed as management cost of the private forests.
In addition, the national and international conservation organizations like IUCN, ICIMOD, Helvetas Inter cooperation Pakistan, WWF-Pakistan, LEAD-Pakistan and SDPI provide support in policy dialogue, capacity building, and awareness raising at various levels.
Division of roles and responsibilities with respect to REDD+ between OIGF and the sub-national entities is not always clear. Representatives of the provincial departments suggested a stronger role in international consultations on REDD+ and international climate negotiations. Need of pre discussion and internal preparations for international meetings through wider consultation and communication with the sub-national entities was also highlighted.
The organizational set-up and coordination mechanisms for REDD+ are well developed. However, they are dependent on a project set-up for financing.
Although forestry is a provincial subject since independence, the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2010 further devolved powers to the sub-national entities. National coordination necessary for information sharing and learning is not well organized. A centralized platform for collecting and analyzing data using consistent methodologies has been developed under REDD+ project which needs further strengthening. Collating of data from all sun-national entities is important for national policy formulation, planning and international reporting.
Human and financial capacities
Sustainable forest management requires overall stability and competence of forestry sector institutions with sufficient and well-trained manpower, both with respect to technical knowledge and social and extension aspects. In terms of human resources, approximately 31% of the sanctioned posts were lying vacant in all the forestry institutions at national and provincial level. Especially Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan have many vacant posts. This lack of manpower reflects both budget constraints and a lack of political priority for the forestry sectoring terms of quality, staff is lacking technical skills regarding assessment of carbon pools, drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, forest monitoring, and other skills regarding extension and stakeholder analysis, private sector engagement and benefit sharing especially with respect to carbon rights.
Only a limited number of staff has been assigned to extension related tasks or understand forestry extension methodologies. Strong linkages between forestry education, research and extension institutions are lacking, consequently forest extensionists have a limited menu of potential interventions to be employed at community level to counter the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. Forestry education and research institutions have limited funds and facilities to link up with the REDD+ agenda and come with well-trained forestry professionals for new technical tasks and forest extensions.
Financial resources with forest institutions, particularly PFI, for capacity building and upgradation of curricula are scarce. PFI lacks upgraded curricula modern teaching aides and competent faculty necessary to impart quality education. Therefore, the institute is unable to produce manpower equipped with modern concepts to meet the demanding challenges of forestry sector in the country. A worrying factor is that PFI has lost its role as national institution for forestry education and research since it has been devolved at the provincial level. Training facilities in institutions where field staff are being trained (e.g., Forest Schools Ghora Gali Punjab and Muzaffarabad AJK) were also rated to be insufficient and was found poor. PFI, Faisalabad Agriculture University, Arid Agriculture University, Karakoram University, Allama Iqbal Open University, Haripur University and other institutions are offering four-year BSc and MSc programmes . These institutions need to diversify the specializations offered through curriculum development and enhance their technical capacities to deliver and meet the emerging needs of the forestry sector. A welcome development is that the Punjab Forest Department is strengthening the Forest Academy Ghora Gali established in 2017. The academy provides pre-service training to junior staff and prepromotion training to senior officials as well as short training and trainings to communities.
Other reasons for institutional degradation are continued political interference in day-to-day affairs of departments, unnecessary favoritism (lack of transparency in transfer/ posting of staff), and lack of career planning of field staff.
Overall, at national level, both development and non-development budgets are increasing consistently since 2010. However, the analysis shows that generally the forestry sector is under resourced. Historically, in Pakistan, the forestry sector has received low investment and low priority. However, during the last ten years comparative data of financial allocations to the forestry sector indicated an increase. The launching of the flagship 1BTAP, BTAP, large scale mangroves restoration activities, implementation of donor funded REDD+, SFM, MFF and several other afforestation activities under ADP projects have led to the beginning of a policy shifts towards prioritizing the green agenda. The present situation may be termed as progressive
increase in fund allocation. Private sector engagement is a potential opportunity to enhance investment in forestry sector through public-private partnership. To create space for private sector engagement in forest activities, particularly for investments in NTFPs development, carbon trading under REDD+ mechanism and promoting carbon neutral businesses will require revision of existing sectoral policies and regulations. Exploration of innovative avenues for adequate investment in the forestry sector is certainly needed.
Analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) A SWOT exercises was conducted involving the forestry department officials from all the provinces and is presented in Table 11.
Table 11: SWOT analysis combined – sub national Forest departments
Interestingly, Forest Department officials highly agree that the sub-national entities have well-defined systems and the necessary frame conditions and basic technical know-how to manage natural resources sustainably. On the other hand, they also identify the need to improve the capacity of staff in understanding and applying new concepts related to the emerging needs of the sector and new roles, and the need for organizational development regarding institutionalizing participatory forest management and non-traditional professions such as GIS. Major national level programs or initiatives such as REDD+ and TBTTP are seen as opportunities to tackle these issues. The fact that the forestry officials identify anthropogenic pressure on forestry resources as major threat indicates the need for collaborative forest management and the development of a strong forestry extension system.