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National Forest Policies of Pakistan

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National Forest Policies of Pakistan


  • Generally, Policy is “a program of actions adopted by a person, group, or government, or the set of principles on which they are based.” _ Encarta Encyclopedia
  • “A pre-determined course of action”. _ Abeed Ullah Jan
  • To sum up, “Policy is a scheme of thinking about a given subject that sets goals and identifies the means of achieving such goals.”
  • The last definition is usually used on the basis of the following reasons:
    • It follows a hierarchy (an organization or group whose members are arranged in ranks, e.g. in ranks of power and seniority) with respect to thinking, which stands for policy, method or course of action, which denotes strategy; and program, which means action.
    • It provides space for the subject about which a policy is or has been formulated.
    • It follows again a hierarchy about goals, objectives, and purpose. Goals are long-term and broad-based. Objectives are short-term and narrow-based, and purpose is of immediate nature and specific. The policy should deal with a scheme of thinking, and goals.


Following should be the principles of the formulation of a sound policy:

  1. A policy should be based on a sound rationale (the reasoning or principle that underlies or explains something) of logic. That would mean that it has a clear appeal to common sense and common wisdom of those who will be put responsible to implement the same.
  2. It should highlight clearly the goals.
  3. The goals should be convertible (capable of being changed) to action and achievable.
  4. Means of achieving such goals should be clearly signified.
    • These include but not limited to:
      • Land
      • Capital
      • Institution
      • Legislation
  5. A policy should be related to ground realities and should not be based on wishful thinking.
  6. Policies should be consistent in continuity as far as possible and with each other if policies for related subjects exist or are being proposed.
  7. A policy should be distinguished from rules and regulations.
  8. A policy should be in writing and approved by the competent authority.
  9. Social impacts of a policy are pre-evaluated (examine and judge something) and measures against any possible negative impacts be proposed in the same.
  10. A policy should have a unity of thought and should not be a mixture of contradictory (opposing) ideas. It should be optimistic and should inspire the confidence of the interested parties.
  11. A policy should be dynamic and flexible so as to adapt itself to changing circumstances and technology.
  12. Policy formulation must go through a genuine process of wide consultation and dialogue with all interested parties and stakeholders.
  13. Inbuilt mechanism of review and monitoring is provided for in the policy.


  • “It is a scheme of thinking about the forestry of Pakistan that sets goals and identifies means of achieving such goals.”


  • Basic requirements of a sound National Forest Policy are as under:
  1. The policy should promote sustainable mgt and development of forest resource in the country.
  2. It should contribute in the broader sense, to the sustainable mgt of the land, which in any case is the basic asset of any nation.
  3. It should ensure coordination amongst various govt agencies, and with private agencies having land-use responsibilities.
  4. The policy should direct sound mgt of catchments of main rivers because canals system depends on dams constructed over such rivers. Also, such dams generate hydroelectric power.
  5. Forest area of 5.4% of the total land area of the country is extremely inadequate. Forest policy should concentrate on increasing this area.
  6. The country is heavily populated and faces energy crises. Since there is a little scope of increasing the area of state forests, agroforestry should be given priority.
  7. Forest policy should recognize the role of local communities in mgt and development of forest and land resources.
  8. It should promote social benefits, and enhance livelihood opportunities of the local poor, the women, and other marginalized segments of the society.
  9. It must take into account the conservation of eco-system, improvement of wildlife habitats, and compliance with international treaties.
  10. It must promote recreational and touristic values of the forests.
  11. It must identify the means of realizing its goals. These include but are not limited to:
    1. Institutional/ organizational resource
    2. Financial resource
    3. Legal resource
    4. Land
    5. Public participation
    6. Research and education
    7. Extension and advocacy
  12. It should be dynamic and flexible so as to cope with the changing circumstances and advances in technology
  13. The policy should provide for its monitoring and review.

National Forest Policies of 1894, 1955, 1962, 1980, and 1991

Each policy will be dealt with under the following headings:

  • History and Backgrounds
  • Policy statement ie its important features
  • Critique on important features.
  • Implementation


History and Background:

  • People in general thought that forests are an unlimited and everlasting resource; therefore conversion of forests into agri- and grazing lands were rampant (occurring unchecked).
  • Forests used to be put to fires for the above purpose and devastating (damaging) them.
  • Land settlement and forest demarcation had not been carried out.
  • Life was of pastoral (rural) nature that interfered with forest regeneration.
  • Forests were not managed under any plan. Random cutting of valuable spp in accessible areas was going on.
  • The British ruler realized that conservancy measure by adopted to arrest degradation of forests and maintain their productivity. Hence they issued forest policy directing of 1894.

Important Features of 1894 Policy:

  • Forest be conserved and their area productivity may not be allowed to reduce
  • Forest working plan be developed and implemented
  • Land settlement and forest demarcation be carried out
  • Cooperation of local communities in forest areas be enlisted

Critique of Important features and Implementation:

  • The gravity of the situation was realized well in time before much harm was done and suitable directives were issued.
  • The land settlement was initiated into Reserved, Protected, and Guzara forests. Their demarcation and mapping were completed.
  • Working plans for major forests were completed and their implementation was started.
  • Indian Forest Act 1927 was promulgated (declare officially) and implemented.


History and Background:

  • Pakistan came into being 1947 and the earlier forest policy of Indian Govt (1984) was not very well suited to limited forest base.
  • New govt of Pakistan must have initiated new policies in other sectors as well. Also, the need was in forestry.
  • Professionals at the helm of affairs changed and they must have thought to express their will through a new forest policy.

Important features of Forest Policy 1955:

  • Forestry should be assigned higher priority and more funds should be allocated for increasing areas under forests.
  • Forests should be classified on basis of their utility
  • Intangible benefits of forestry should get preference over tangible benefits.
  • All forests should be scientifically managed under approved working plans.
  • Forests area should be increased by reserving 10% of land and water in colony (new cultivation) areas for raising irrigated plantations ie Social Forestry
  • Timber and fuelwood yields should be increased by growing trees along roads and canals.
  • Sound mgt be endured in private forests through legislation and govt assistance.
  • Necessary powers should be obtained to control land use and conserve soil under a coordinated program.

Critique on Salient features of 1955 Policy:

  • All important features were in line with the thinking of the day.
  • Were realistic and enforceable.


  • Higher priority to forestry was not given in 5-years plan and adequate funds were not provided
  • Forests were classified on the basis of utility eg production, protection of forests in working plans. This was however in contradiction to salient features No. 3 stating that the intangible benefits of forests be given preference over tangible ones.
  • Working plans for scientific mgt of forests were initiated.
  • 10% of land in newly irrigated areas was not allocated to the plantation. Only 3% was.
  • Trees along roads and canals were partly raised.
  • Sound mgt in private forests was initiated.
  • Control on general land use was not obtained.


History and Background:

  • Several developments took place b/w 1955 and 1962 which influenced the land use, economy, and forestry.
  • Several dams and barrages were constructed in Punjab and Sind, therefore, the attention of policymakers shifted to the catchment area of important rivers.
  • Control of Forest Departments was extended to the forests of princely states of Dir, Swat, Chitral, and Amb. Mgt started in Neelum valley of AJK and logging operations in Chilas valley of Northern Areas.
  • The gap b/w supply and demand increased resulting in a staggering bill for the import of wood and wood products.
  • A new martial law govt of president Ayub Khan was in place and was interested in enunciating new policies of all kinds of subjects.

Important features of forest policy 1962:

  • Forests

    1. It is necessary to reorient the administrative organization of govt-run forests, so that these forests become progressively, commercial concerns with emphasis on production and regeneration.
    2. Forest Department should undertake a research study so that the present period of exploitation is shortened.
    3. Provincial govt should transfer forest able rukhs (wastelands) to forest dept in West Pakistan. All lands along canals, roads, and railways are properly afforested and exploited under working plans.
    4. Irrigated plantations may be included in new colonization plans.
    5. Provincial govt should progressively undertake the acquisition of rights of grazing, removal of trees and breaking of land in govt and Guzara forests.
    6. The provincial govt in consultation with flood commission, should survey in the riverain lands of West Pakistan, and prepare programs for mgt of river banks and forests on behalf of owners.
  1. Watershed Mgt:

    1. Forest Dept should assume direct responsibility for soil conservation within govt owned forests.
    2. A w-shed mgt and rehabilitation program should be drawn.
    3. All goats should be eliminated from the hills areas within three years.
    4. A gradual shift of hill-population to new colonies in plains.
  1. Farm Forestry:

    1. Farm Forestry should be the concern of the existing Agriculture dept in non-project areas and the Agriculture development corporation in project areas.

Critique on Forest Policy 1962:

  • Too bold a policy than the ability of govt dept
  • Changing forests to commercial concerns was not a valid proposal.
  • Elimination of goats (for which goats restriction ordinance 1962 was also passed) was not feasible (easy) and was an antisocial element.
  • Shifting to the hill population to plains was ill-conceived and was antisocial and unfeasible.
  • Acquisition of right over forest was antisocial and also unfeasible.

Implementation of Forest Policy 1962:

  • Low input, low output remained operative in forests and converting forests into commercial concerns were not initiated.
  • Canals, roads and railway lands were transferred to Forest dept and afforestation over such areas was initiated.
  • Against policy provision of 15%, only 3% newly irrigated lands were transferred to forest dept for plantation.
  • Acquisition of rights over forests was not done.
  • Riverbanks were not given for Afforestation because owners preferred agriculture over there.
  • For w-shed mgt, pilot projects were started in NWFP and Punjab.
  • Shifting of the hill population was not possible and was not done.
  • Though goat restriction ordinance 1962 was passed, it was never implemented.
  • Farm forestry was not started by Agriculture dept or ADC.


History and Background:

  • The policy of 1962 did not produce significant results
  • It was recognized that farmlands provided 90% of fuelwood and 50% of timber consume in the country, whereas public forests produced only 10% firewood and 50% of timber. Therefore it was felt that the potential of farm-lands could be further developed.
  • The new martial law of General Zia-ul-Haq held govt and it was interested in new policies.

Salient Features of Forest Policy 1980:

It was enunciated as part of agriculture policy 1980. The guidelines were:

  • A bigger thrust on the planting of growing tree spp outside forests.
  • Development of compact fuelwood plantations in an area of wood scarcity and w-shed through public motivation and incentives.
  • Making effective motivational arrangements to involve people in mass-scale tree planting activities and nature-conservation.
  • Mgt of wild lands in accordance with their potential for optimum utilization in various forms, including recreation and wildlife.
  • Forest harvesting on scientific lines departmentally or through public sector corporations to avoid waste and to improve utilization.
  • Increased production of industrial wood to gradually meet full requirements of wood-based industries.
  • Coordinated/ integrated development of forestry and wood-based industries.
  • Well planned, integrated and coordinated forestry development at provincial levels.
  • Promoting wildlife conservation consistent with other land uses and ensuring that wildlife values are preserved and enhanced.
  • A scientific approach to the mgt of wildlife through wildlife surveys, research, and mgt plans.
  • Encouraging the creation and development of national parks.
  • Production of medicinal herbs in wild lands.

Critique on salient features of 1980 Policy:

  • Public motivation was brought in for the first time.
  • Thrust on planting trees outside forest areas was emphasized.
  • Promotion of industrial wood and wood-based industries was given priority.
  • Wildlife and related subjects were brought to the forefront.
  • Medicinal plants were given importance.
  • All this spoke of a shift from goods to services from the forest and was a positive sign.
  • Research and education were ignored in the policy.

Implementation of the 1980 Policy:

  • Farm forestry and social forestry programs were initiated in NWFP and Punjab.
  • Motivational programs were started on a nominal scale.
  • For forest harvesting, FDC was established in NWFP, AKLASC continued in AJK, and departmental extraction started in Punjab.
  • To prepare forest development plans, the forestry sector master plan was initiated through the donor’s assistance and was completed in 1991.
  • Large-scale w-shed mgt programs were initiated in NWFP and AJK with the assistance of WFP.
  • Wildlife got the impetus. This dept was re-organized and strengthened in all the provinces, 10 National parks, 84 wildlife sanctuaries, and was 76 game reserves, were established.
  • No significant work was done on medicinal plants.


History and Background:

  • Forest policy guidelines 1980 were not considered comprehensive enough by policymakers and a wholesome independent forest policy was felt to be necessary.
  • A newly elected govt was in place and it winter to break new grounds in every field including forestry.
  • Siltation of multi-purpose dams was in progress and this apprehension was at the back of minds of policy-makers. Hence attention was to be focused on the catchment areas of important rivers.
  • The country faced energy crises. Therefore emphasis was to be placed on energy plantations and farm-forestry.

Salient Features of 1991 Policy:

The policy consists of two parts:

  1. Objectives
  2. Plan of action

These are discussed in the following sections:

  • Objectives:

The following objectives have been set in the policy:

  • Meet country’s requirements of timber, fuelwood, fodder and other products and environmental needs by increasing the forest area from 5.4% to 10% during the next 15 years.
  • Conserve the existing forest, w-shed, rangeland and wildlife resources by sustainable utilization and develop them to meet the ever-increasing demands.
  • Encourage planting of multipurpose tree spp in irrigated plantations, riverain forests, and private farmlands to meet the industrial and domestic demands.
  • Conserve biological diversity and maintain ecological balance through conservation of natural forests, reforestation and wildlife habitat improvement programs.
  • Control environmental degradation in catchment areas of rivers to check soil erosion and accretion of silt in water-reservoirs, and to regulate water supply to increase the life-span of multi-purpose dams and to control floods.
  • Take anti-desertification measures and rehabilitate water-logged, saline and degraded lands through vegetation treatment.
  • Generate opportunities for income and self-employment for the local population.
  • Promote NGOs and private voluntary orgs (PVOs) to educate masses and create public awareness for environmental improvement.
  • Plan of action:

The following plan of action was also announced.

    1. Forest mgt
    2. Land use
    3. Hill forests
    4. Degraded w-sheds
    5. Rangelands
    6. Wildlife protected areas
    7. Private forestry
    8. Forest extension
    9. Research and education
    10. Environmental forestry
    11. Resource surveys
    12. Incentives

The critique about important features of 1991 Policy:

  • This is a very elaborate policy trying not to miss any details. A very detailed Action Plan has also been added.
  • Increase in forest area from 5.4% to 10% involves a new area to be brought under forest namely 12.317 million acres. This is a gigantic task and physically unachievable. Financial requirements for this task were not calculated nor identified. If we take planting and maintenance cost per are as Rs 3000/- the amount required comes to Rs 36,951/- million or say 37 billion.
  • Institutional, financial, legal, and other physical resources for successful materialization of the policy were neither identified nor were sources for this purpose lined up in the said policy.
  • The policy is extra elaborate and leaves nothing to thought and innovation of the implementation.

Implementation Status:

The policy is still current, though a new policy is under discussion since 2001 it has not yet matured, implementation-wise, following points need mention.

  • The policy has been taken over by a general ban on commercial harvesting of forests imposed by Federal govt in 1993 that is still operative.
  • Policy document has not been taken seriously by planners in federal as well as provincial govt. In none of the planning documents, it is being referred to (eg in PC-I documents).
  • Large-scale projects were launched on various subjects mentioned in the policy document both at federal and provincial levels. Significant works have been done on these programs like social forestry projects in NWFP and Sind, Forestry sector projects in NWFP and Punjab, etc.
  • In particular, work on protected areas, and wildlife parks were given full attention.
  • It is doubtful whether these programs were started by planners as a matter of routine planning and development initiatives, OR; as a demand of the 1991 forest policy.

Successful implementation of Forest Policies of Pakistan


  • Only Indian Forest Policy 1894 was given a fair chance of showing results ie 50 years. All other policies lasted only for a decade or two. This list is as of 1894, 1955, 1962, 1980 and 1991. All these years denote the change of govt.
  • Continuity in goals of policies was not maintained. This promoted hit-and-trial and adhocism.
  • Means of achieving the goals/ objectives of the respective policies were not identified in any policy. These include but are not limited to:
    • Institutional/ organizational means
    • Legal means
    • Financial means
    • Land resource
    • Extension and advocacy
    • Public participation
    • Research and education


  • Resources for achieving the goals of any policy were not lined up for their implementation. The policy is the umbrella arrangement. All other arrangements were to follow it as a natural and logical consequence. These include but are not limited to:
    • Strengthening and reforming the concerned org
    • Changes in legislation
    • Changes in rules and regulations
    • Changes in planning and mapping procedures of forests
    • Making available finances
    • Simplifying financial procedures
    • Changing attitudes of departmental staff from control to cooperation with local communities.
    • Launching a long-term campaign on the extension, motivation, and advocacy.
    • Ways and means of public participation.
    • Ways and means of research and education.
    • A genuine consultation and dialogue process for the formulation of the policies was not followed. Hence these were not owned by the interested parties, stakeholders, forest staff and the people in general.
    • Decision makers and planners outside forest ministry never cared to feel obliged to the forest policies. Mention of such policies in planning documents like PC-I in never made.
    • To be fair to the policies, these provided a direction and helped in:
      • Creating awareness about the new situation
      • Launching programs of intensive mgt, social, forestry, agro-forestry, protected areas, and the like.
      • Increasing production of saplings and their utilization in projects and distribution to farmers.
      • Increasing quite significantly, the tree/ forest cover in the country.

Compare the adequacy of National Policy of Pakistan with reference to France, Germany, and the USA.

General Remarks:

Before we compare the forest policy of Pakistan with these countries, it will be better to find out some salient features of the forest policies of these countries.


The forest policy of France has been recently been actualized through Forest – Orientation Law of 2001. The main points of this law/ policy are as follows:

  1. To develop a sustainable and multi-functional mgt of forests. The recreation and ecological values are admitted as objectives of legislation and integrated into the new mgt tools.
  2. To enroll forest policy in the land-use mgt. the forest action which has been for a too long time sectoral must have a territorial dimension and must integrate with the different sectors like agriculture and environment.
  3. To strengthen the protection of natural- or forest ecosystem.
  4. To improve the organization of the institutions related to the forests.


  • Forest and Society: Beyond raw material, forests provide a number of protective and recreational services to the society. Develop economically as well as ecologically viable standards for such services.
  • Forests as recreation areas: Set up public relation work on forests, gearing recreational services to demand, and steering the number of visitors.
  • Protection of soil, groundwater, drinking water, emission control, and local climate protection.
  • Flood, sight and noise control
  • Forests and biologically diversity
  • Role of forests in the global carbon cycle like greenhouse effects, etc.
  • Importance of wood as a renewable resource and as raw material for wood-based industries.
  • The contribution of forestry and forest-based industries to the development of rural areas.


Following are the main points of the Forest Policy of USA

  • Sustainable mgt and certification procedure of timber thereof
  • Forestry to provide rural development
  • Wood-based industries to work without disturbing sustainable mgt of forests
  • Private forestry will be boosted with tax relief and incentives
  • Recreational values of forests will be strengthened and roadless areas in forests to be promoted
  • Wilderness areas will be developed
  • Biodiversity will be protected.


The current forest policy of our country is extremely elaborate and touches all the issues that are relevant to our situation. Like these countries, our policy also takes care of sustainable mgt, providing employment to the rural people, promotion of wood-based industries, recreational values of forests, biodiversity conservation etc. the only thing that our policy does not mention is the carbon-cycle and greenhouse effect and the possible change in climate. So there in no need to worry on the academic side of the policy. As far actual follow up action and provision of resources for implementation of our policy is concerned, we might be lagging behind being a resource-poor county. Similarly, planners outside the Forest Department need to pay more attention to the policy provinces and to give more importance to the programs related to forest wildlife and environment.
The policy needs to be taken to field level staff, civil society and the public at large so as to solicit their support and co-action.

Do you think that Forest Act 1927 is sufficient in the present circumstances? Explain with example.

 No, Forest Act 1927 is not sufficient in the present circumstances because when the 1927 act was promulgated, at that time the condition of the forest was very good ie it was not exploited and it fulfilled the needs of that time. If the circumstances had remained the same, then this act could be applicable to some extent. But unfortunately the conditions have changed and the forest resource degraded as time progressed.
Many causes can be attributed to this degradation like

  • Firstly, IInd World War (1939-45) and the partition of 1947
  • After partition, rapid development resulted in the degradation of this resource
  • Secondly, the unjust partition of land due to which less forest cover come in our share
  • Thirdly, the partition of Bengal had adverse effects on the forest resource of East Pakistan
  • Fourthly, the decrease in this resource resulted from the increase in population

After all the reasons which resulted in a decrease of the forest resource, to manage the remaining resource, new legislation is to be made which should be strict in nature. It should prohibit the exploitation of forest resource.
Apart from this, there are certainly other reasons like:

  • Fines imposed for any illegal acts are very less even for the major offense like illegal transport of timber, the cause of the fire by negligence/ willful fire in Section 33 of Forest Act 1927, very fewer fines has been imposed. Similarly, in Sec 62 (Punishment of Wrongful Seizure), punishment is only Rs 500/. Similarly, fines imposed for Cattle Trespass Act under Sec 71 is very less. Then in Sec 77; penalty for Breach of Rules; punishment is only Rs 500/ and 6 months imprisonment.

So if we look into this, the highest fine and imprisonment is only Rs 500/ and 6 months imprisonment except in Sec 63 (unlimited fine and 2 years imprisonment), therefore another law is required, which should fulfill the requirements of the present era, with greater fines.

  • The forest officials sometimes require the service of the Police Department for security purposes or tackling the dacoits/ thieves, so the forest officials should be provided with arms for their security. Therefore, forest force should be declared.
  • There should be separate forest courts, where justice could be dispensed quickly and speedy trials are conducted.
  • Nowadays there are issues related to the Global Warming and environment protection like the melting of glaciers, reducing pollution, carbon sequestration, eco-tourism, etc. so a law mentioning all these aspects should be promulgated.

For correction and improvements please use the comments section below.

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

2 thoughts on “National Forest Policies of Pakistan

  • Aslam Wali

    Considerable time has been lapsed
    No productivity since long, while disaster extending day by day
    Every person enjoying with recent state of affairs, and nobody terrified of future fatalities.
    Who will bell the cat? How improvement make possible?


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