Importance of the Conservation of Forests

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The conservation of forests Is Important, both for the existence of human being and protection of renewable natural resources. Forest ecosystem has an extended value-chain In the economy by providing a range of direct and indirect goods and services that benefit humankind in numerous ways. This includes livelihood support – not only to the communities living in and around forest, but also to those located far away from forests. Thus, forestry products and services play a significant but often unrecognized role at multiple scales of human organization-from households, community at the macro level to overall human civilization inhabiting the earth biosphere.

Since centuries, humans are dependent on forests to acquire variety of services. Despite of deforestation, the economic growth has further raised their importance as they provided significant economic contribution in various economic sectors [1]. The empirical evidence suggests that sustainable benefits to human being and economy largely depends on how forests are managed and governed [1] and how they are connected with the economy to retrieve the benefits for food and nutrition [2], wood production for industry [3], soil conservation, watershed protection and flood control [4]. The direct share of forestry and its products in global economy is near to 1% of GDP and 0.4% in employment (FAO, 2012).1

Forest ecosystem services can be categorized into provisioning services, regulating services, supporting services and cultural services. Provisioning services include forest products, such as timber, fuelwood, fodder and a wide range of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) which are often termed as forest products or goods. Traditional valuation of forestry sector mostly takes into account only timber, which is normally quantified and documented by government agencies. Other ecosystem services, though play more important role, are often ignored while calculating the contribution of forestry in the country’s developmental statistics.

Reliable and timely statistics on forest products and services are essential to ensure sustainable flow of associated benefits. It ultimately facilitates governments and private stakeholders in making evidence-based decisions, and in devising effective monitoring mechanisms, policies, and programs for sustainable forest ecosystems. However, data is a major issue in estimating both the economic and non-economic benefits, especially on NTFPs. It is worth mentioning that non-economic benefits are largely ignored and underestimated due to lack of data as various studies suggest that they are 3 to 5 times high than the economic benefits. Women and poor communities are among the main economic beneficiary of forestry products. Keeping in view it is necessary to recognize and appropriately value the outstanding economic contributions of forests to human welfare and development.

The geographic area of Pakistan including the Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK) and Gilgit Baltistan (G, is 88 million hectares, out of which land pattern is available for 67% of the area The rest area it still unclassified, mostly fall in Balochistan (59%), GB (21%) and Punjab (11%). 35% of the area s under the cultivable where again around one-third of the area Is still wasted. Forests have only 5% of the total area as retrieved from provincial forest reports. Across provinces, AJK has th highest forest covered area (32%), followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (18%), Sindh and GB each of 5%, Punjab with 3.3% and Balochistan with only 1.4%. A significant area is afforested and regeneration is also carried out overtime.

Figure 1: Land use pattern In Pakistan 32

Land use Pattern in Pakistan
Land use Pattern in Pakistan

Within the agriculture, Pakistan has achieved significant rural transformation where the share of livestock has been rising. It is around 70% within the agriculture sector. Rangeland is an important source for livestock’s fodder. According to Landcover Atlas of Pakistan (2012), the total area of Pakistan is 88 million ha, out of which rangeland is 42.99 million ha (48.6%), agricultural land is 25.78 million ha (29.1%) and forest land is 4.55 million ha (5.1%).

Globally too, there are concerns regarding the depleting sources of energy and calls for adopting alternate sources, preferably renewable. Biomass is one major source of renewable energy as it is an organic material obtained through plants and animals and stores chemical energy from the sun. With increasing and protection of existing forest ecosystems, we may be able to utilize a great deal of biomass energy which will prove to be a massive contribution to the fuel and energy i related activities at household and industrial levels.

Quantifying the amount of biomass from forests used for the construction o wood, furniture, fuel-wood, paper, or other wood products requires vigilance on industrial round-wood and fuel-wood uses. Tracking the different products and services produced and the types offered that provisioning ,an supply timber, industrial wood, fuel-wood, and other regulating ,supporting and cultural, Informational and recreations services Is useful for analyzing trends In production, consumption, trade, marketing mechanisms, and prices, and assessing multiple use forests and the long-term security of different forest products and services including carbon and non-carbon products.

Importance of the Conservation of Forests: The case of Pakistan

The significant role of forest ecosystems generally remains unrecognised and unappreciated.The country mostly lacks data on forest, its products and services. Consequently, tend to develop a rather ignorant attitude towards the protection andenstuisV. the policy makers ecosystems. Unfortunately, forest sector’s contribution to Pakistan’s Gtt;nFaib”” forest continuous declining trend, always remaining below even 1% of the GDP, and currently been nrs aat a mere 0.4%. It is important to note, however, that GDP calculations to a large extee:ttlrY ftestactnth the direct production contribution of the sector (only from public sector) with no representation of the regulatory. supporting, and cultural services that these precious ecosystems render and the forward and backward linkages of forest with the other economic sectors. For example, the 2018 Household Integrated and Economic Survey (HIES) shows that 40% of the population (55% in rural areas and 14% in urban areas) use wood as the main cooking fuel. Such is the level of importance and contribution of forest ecosystems to our daily lives.

The rapid urbanization has seen Pakistan’s urban population increase by 4 percentage points from 1998 to 2017. Consequently, the demand for wood-based products also increases to accommodate for the population shift. Improved urban lifestyles further increase demand for wood-based products like paper, kitchen items, furniture, doors etc. Subsequently, a much higher demand is generated for using wood and timber in the housing industry and other home appliances manufacturing. As the construction sector is expanding, especially following the special construction sector package by the government to enhance economic activity in the country, there is huge demand of skilled workers, e.g., local carpentry that are associated with timber and wood products. Ecotourism is another untapped potential of Pakistan and forest-based ecosystems are at the helm of ecotourism. Ecotourism too unfortunately remains a highly ignored domain while quantifying the sector’s economic contribution. Most of the tourism in Pakistan, especially to the northern areas of country, is solely linked with the forest endowment of the region while there is great promise for it in central and southern regions as well.

Forest ecosystems have directly contributed to establishing various wood-product related market places across Pakistan, thus, generating great economic activity and providing livelihood to thousands of households. The history of Bhabra bazaar explains for how long humans have used wood-products better their living standards, while the furniture markets in Chiniot and Gujrat show that modernization n too has not reduced the importance of wood products in our lives. Additionally, Pakistan has around ida hundred paper mills operating in the country, supplying around 80% of the country’s paper requirements Al wood-product industries are highly labor Intensive, and their importance to the households of labor associated with these industries has never been adequately quantified. The long-standing use of wood for manufacturing of essential and high-demand products without any effective forest ecosystems protection and sustainability measures have put them at a high-risk of quick depletion.

With depleting forest ecosystems and henceforth depleting wood supplies, the livelihoods of individuals and households associated with these industries is at massive risk as well, unless strict sustainability measures are adopted.

As mentioned above, data is the backbone of any analysis, planning and informed decision making. Comprehensive data, however, on the demand and supply of different forest products and services are not available in Pakistan, while adequate relevant information regarding any of its different provinces/sub-national units is not available either. As a result, this data scarcity limits the ability to analyze and provide credible and transparent information that can be used to guide markets, help formulate and implement public policies to manage drivers of changes more effectively in the forest, attract potential private investors, bring employment to local communities, and identify targeted priorities and projects. The lack of forest products statistics in Pakistan is characterized by low reporting rates by provinces/territories, partial coverage of statistics by current provincial and national surveys, a lack of systematic assessment of majority forest products-related information such as scientific databases.

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