How Climate is Changing and How Underprepared We are as a Country?
Climate Change and Pakistan
How climate is change is affecting Pakistan and how underprepared we are as a country to meet the new challenges being brought about by the environment. Natural resources ought to be nature’s generous gift to mankind but the manner in which these resources are being squandered is criminal.
Importance of Trees
There are no hidden facts that trees act as buffers to help control air, soil, and water quality, along with other environmental problems, in areas where land is being tilled. So, for example, riparian forest buffers which exist alongside streams, rivers and other water bodies, help in maintaining cleaner streams with better water quality for drinking purposes. They help in restoring the natural state of aquatic life and wildlife, prevent land erosion and property loss, and reduce stormwater runoff.
Also Read: National Definition of Forest – Notification
Forest Cover in Pakistan
According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program, Pakistan has 5.36 percent forest cover of its total land mass. This is the lowest in the region.
The per capita forest area in Pakistan is merely 0.033 hectares compared with the world average of one hectare. More than half of the total existing coniferous forest cover of Pakistan lies in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to a 2010 WWF-Pakistan report, among the top 10 forested districts, seven are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The common features, besides forests, in all these forested districts are their extreme cold winter and abundant water.
Forests and Communities
There is a high level of consumption of fuelwood in the winter in all these districts. In areas beyond Madyan in Swat, in the areas beyond Sheringal in Upper Dir, and in parts of Chitral, the local people greatly depend upon the forests for fuelwood. In Kalam and Utror, where the winter extends to six months, each household needs more than 30 tonnes of fuelwood for the winter season. The situation is the same in the villages of Thal, Lamuti, and Kumrat in Upper Dir.
Common people usually cut down the finest deodar trees for firewood as the deodar wood burns quickly and provides heat almost instantly.
Are Communities be blamed for Illicit Cutting of Forests?
One outcome of this practice is to blame locals. But this might be a misguided exercise. A few years ago, a resident of Balakot, in the Torwali belt in Swat, narrated how local people in his village counted 600 trees that had been felled for fuelwood during winters that year. Shocked at how much wood they had consumed, the locals banned the felling of trees for fuelwood altogether. This decision was not strictly imposed ultimately as people had no alternative source of heating their homes in the winters.
Similarly, in the hilly districts of Malakand, winters being unusually long and harsh, almost all households use wood as their principal fuel for heating and cooking purposes. They do this because they do not have alternate sources of energy.
See Also: Earth Shatters Climate Record (2018)
Depletion of Forests and Health Problems
The fuelwood in these areas has, on the one hand, depleted precious forests at an alarming rate while on the other hand, it has adversely affected the health of the local people, particularly of women, children and the elderly. Since these people stay inside the house day and night, they are more prone to asthma and other serious respiratory diseases. Carbon dioxide and monoxide inhalation further worsen the problem.
Government Policies and Alternate Means of Energy
The irony of the situation is that these areas are rich in forests and water, and yet, there is no government policy to provide alternate means of energy so as to protect the forests and agricultural lands. It is easy to blame locals for their role in felling trees but the real issue lies elsewhere.
Take the Billion Tree Tsunami Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, for example. It was stated that 550 million young seedlings would be protected under this project in addition to the plantation of 450 million new plants. This is indeed a positive measure but it was undertaken in haste, with no robust planning and required community ownership.
What needs to be done?
One such measure that could involve the community is the production of clean energy from the water resources that the forest areas have in abundance, and then, to distribute it among the local population either free or at subsidized rates. This will reduce the growing pressure of fuelwood on forests. The locals, particularly women, children and the elderly, will have clean and warm homes. This measure would contribute to the health and education sectors as well.
We are told that in Pakistan the existing energy policies do not allow the provision of free or cheaper electricity to communities where hydroelectricity is produced. But the policy is not holy scripture and can be amended to protect forests and make the lives of the locals easy. There are a number of hydroelectric projects underway in a number of areas braving the immediate impact of climate change. In Bahrain, Swat, the government has almost completed the 36MW Daral Khwar Hydropower Project. In Kalam, work on the 84MW hydro project has been started. Similarly, in Kohistan the 17MW Ronalia project is complete. In Chitral, the 108MW Golen Gol Hydropower Project is complete, too. In Shangla, the Khan Khor project has already been producing electricity, but benefits to local population are negligible as the power shall be mostly distributed down-country.
There are options for better management of resources but the government needs to take the initiative and introduce sustainable measures by providing alternative cheaper and cleaner sources of energy. Blaming the people will not help in solving the menace of deforestation; it will only keep diverting attention from why nature is wreaking havoc.
Also Read: Water Bottle That Fully Decomposes in Just 3 Weeks | Latest Research
5 thoughts on “How Climate is Changing and How Underprepared We are as a Country?”
I have a quick hint for the author. Alway give a reference when you put a map or any figure in your’s article. It’s unethical to employ others data with acknowledgment).
Msc Forest science ( Forest growth and wood quality improvement)
University of Eastern Finland
Thanks for the hint. Photos/Maps etc having reference/source embedded on those are automatically credited. Also, some photos etc are taken from Google Photos (Free Souce), pixaby, etc where photos can be used and modified (no need to give credit as these are from free sources). Still whenever anything that needs to be highlighted the source is mentioned.
Your suggestion is highly valued and looking forward to your active participation and sharing of Forestry Orientated Knowledge.
Dear, it’s appreciated for the article you’ve chosen regarding climate change. It could be accepted for being a general write up like an essay, a news article, etc, but not research oriented, which leads us that such type of articles related to climate change requires a comprehensive collection of literature. Secondly, the comment regarding Billion trees project in KP I.e., it’s planning,is merely based on assumption and a debatable one. The focus of your write-up should be objective oriented for what you want your readers to be informed of, and not the personal opinions or assumptions or debatable points and seems like political scoring. Thirdly, the areas regarding fuelwood collection mentioned are just a few and other provinces, not mentioned. Every heading in the article, is itself an entire research work, which needs to be supported with references. Concluding, the article is a general one, without any specific objectives for the readers, and mostly mentions the projects completed in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and does not cover the whole country, hence needs sufficient improvement.
Dear Aitezaz Khan, Aoa, I totally appreciate your points and concerns raised over the article. The way you are defending your points is worth noting. Plz, let me clarify a few points. First, the article was originally published in Dawn Newspaper (the link and source given at the end of article). Nothing is added from my side, as I have not done any research in KPK esp over the points raised in the article. As you are well aware of Dawn and its credibility so nothing to state further here.
But, I will appreciate it from the bottom of my art if you could write up defending your points (with some research/data proving your concerns) and what I can do will publish it here on Forestrypedia.
I think this will do the justice with the article then.
Thanks a lot,
Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani
Thanks. Hope in the future I will do that.