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Role of Forestry in Employment, Livelihood, Revenues and Green Economy

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Forestry has a series of value chain in employment, especially for women and remote areas. It is quite difficult to quantify the direct forestry related employment as our primary survey was not designed to capture employment from forestry and its products. Keeping in view, the ongoing study has used the 2017/18 Labor Force Survey to analyze the associated employment with forestry and its products. It is worth mentioning that LFS captures the 4-digit occupation and industrial classification which shows various codes that are directly and indirectly related to the forestry’s goods and services. Some of the codes are listed as below:

• Agricultural and forestry production managers

• Recreation and cultural center managers

• Farming, forestry and fisheries advisers

• Forestry technicians

• Forestry and related workers

• Handicraft workers in wood, basketry and related materials

• Wood work, Carpenter

• Pulp and Papermaking plant Operators

• Wood processing plant operators

• Mobile farm and forestry plant operators

• Forestry Laboures

• Water and firewood collectors

• Forestry and logging

• Sawmilling and planning of wood

• Manufacture of veneer sheets and wood-based panels

• Manufacture of builders’ carpentry and joinery

•Manufacture of Wooden Containers

•Manufacture of other products of wood; manufacture of articles of cork, straw and plaiting materials

•Manufacture of agricultural and forestry machinery

A simple analysis against the above codes show that overall 7% of the employed labor is working f forestry related product and services. It is worth mentioning that the reported number lacks the analysis on hotel and restaurant industry located in northern areas of Pakistan and various other sorts of undocumented activities in herbal, medicinal plants etc. While adding the livestock etc, the number will go to around 10%. Across gender, livestock is the main source of female’s employment across the country.

Figure: Direct Employment in Forestry related services

Source: Estimated from Pakistan Labor Force Survey 2018/19 and PIDE survey

Role of forest in provision of livelihood to women and marginalized groups

Forests can be linked to most, if not all of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), through contributions to ecosystem services, green economic opportunities, social and environmental justice agendas. According to some estimates, 20% of the global population is dependent on forest resources, to meet their essential livelihood needs. For rural households, women and marginalized groups, living near forests, as much as 22 % of their income comes from timber and non-timber forest resources. This contribution is larger than wage labor, livestock or self-owned businesses. About half of the income from forests is non-cash and includes food, fuel, fodder, construction materials, and medicine. This non-cash contribution, or “hidden harvest,” is especially important for the extremely poor and women-led households’.

FAO, through its 2018 report, showed that 850 million rural poor (83% of which are women) remain dependent on harvesting wood for fuel, medicinal plants collection, and other forest resources for family consumption. This underlines the opportunities for women regarding greater involvement in forest-based programs; they can secure their access to natural resources, develop their skills and knowledge concerning forest biodiversity and participatory forestry and be able to participate In the public policy process. In fact, women’s informal subsistence-level Involvement can also be turned Into economic and political empowerment.

However, women’s demands and priorities, particularly In connection to natural resources, easily be disregarded owing to established socio-cultural practices and gendered power dynarnics6. Resultantly, this situation Is exacerbated by power differentials where a few poweriu, and influential groups tend to benefit more than the poor majority, particularly the most marginalized groups in the community including women. Therefore, the inclusion of women and marginalized groups in forest resource management is very much important, and if we ignore gender, there is no doubt that we will fail in our efforts to strengthen forests’ contribution t poverty reduction, biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

In the context of Pakistan, forest contributions to women and marginalized groups’ livelihood is predominantly in NTFPs sector. For instance, Mazri Palm cottage industry is providing an important source of livelihood for a large number of rural people, particularly women, who do the bulk of weaving of Mazri products. Usually, the products are mats, baskets, ropes, brooms, hand fans, sandals, hats, decorative pottery and ban (fine ropes for weaving cots or sleeping beds). Mazri-based livelihood specifically for women is common in northern Balochistan, erstwhile FATA, and southern regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it is primarily grown.

Likewise, Munj/Reed in Hyderabad is crucial for the livelihood of the marginal and poor Jogi community, who are involved in making many products from its different parts. Typically, three to five workers of the family including women and children in the family jointly work on different products from Munj, which may include mats, window frames, wall-hangings, cupboards, handicrafts, mirrors frames and decoration pieces. In parallel, Hindu community in Nangarparker uses Gugul – a shrubby small tree – for their subsistence as well as a source of livelihood earning. The communities using the plant and the plant itself both have special social and ecological significance.

Whereas in Khushab and Bhakkar, Eucalyptus has proved to be a real game-changer in monetary terms for the local people. Both these districts are dry and have water-logging and salinity issues. Thus, the land hardly offered any economic benefits. But recently, with the in of Eucalyptus trees, which grow multiple times on their own with little effort in the start, offer good money. Earlier, marginalized groups, who had a slim livelihood, now earn couple very a of lacs per hectare in a year with exceedingly minimum input. It was observed that due to these earnings, people in the rural and remote areas of these districts, finally started constructing their houses on modern lines and started growing and selling Eucalyptus wood as a proper business.

In the same context, medicinal plants in Madyan (Swat) and Astore provide a good source of livelihood for local community and the women who collects these plants. Though, it is pertinent to note that if proper skills are imparted with regards to handling, value addition and branding of these medicinal plants. These local communities can earn many times more.

Thus, it is obvious that for those women who do not have access to the formal economy or those marginalized groups who feel it exceedingly hard to enter into the mainstream formal economic activity, the forest provides them a way out. Forests offer economic opportunities, both in cash and without cash as well, that too in their own very surroundings. This makes women and marginalized groups of forests a key stakeholder. Therefore, the forest is also linked to the livelihood of thousands of people, any harm or damage to the forest directly hits the livelihood of these people, which otherwise would be difficult for the government to provide these people with alternate income generation sources. Hence, protecting and promoting forests in the only viable option ahead.

Role of forests in revenue generation

Way forward: forests and green economy

Pakistan is among the most vulnerable to climate change and stands on B° spot on the Global Climate Risk Index, and faces a loss of at least $ 04 billion per year due to extreme climatic events. As reported by UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Pakistan has the lowest forest cover in the world. The global average is 31% of the land, while in Pakistan it is a mere 5.2% overalls The World Bank has also reported that the country has a lower percentage of forests in total land area, but it is more than Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and the Maldives.’ Though, the forests of Pakistan are not sustainably managed and are overused. These have been degrading and decreasing over the last few decades. There is a lack of systems and checks to assess, monitor and share data on the available forest cover along with the growing stock, and supply and demand for forest products.

During the last two decades, Pakistan has lost 25% of the forest. This is mainly due to an increase in rapid population growth and overburdening forest resources. The major forest-based industries include paper, furniture, construction material, matches, sports goods, wooden

articles, etc. In Pakistan, the economic contribution of forests to the national economy is significant. It creates employment opportunities along with tax and revenue generation. Additionally, in terms of ecological contribution forests provide important ecosystem services like water regulation, sediment control, and biodiversity conservation. Moreover, in term of social impact forests are linked to gender issues in rural settlements.

It is pertinent to note that, forests are directly linked with the green economy. The terminology and the concept of green economy was presented by Ms. Laura Altinger from the UNICEF, Environment, Housing and Land Management Division, with a reference to the Global Green New Deal launched by the United Nations Environment Programme in October 2008. The New Deal describes the greening of the economy as the “process of reconfiguring businesses and infrastructure to deliver better returns on natural, human and economic capital investments, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions, extracting and using fewer natural resources, creating less waste and reducing social disparities “.

The green economy promotes resource efficiency through reduced carbon emissions and social inclusion. In a green economy, employment and income are public to economic activities, infrastructure and assets that enable reduction of carbon emissions and pollution, improvement of energy and resource efficiency, and prevention of loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services and driven by private investment.

The wood and forestry sectors can make a significant contribution towards meeting green economy objectives, linked to climate change policies, mainly through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and expansion of renewable energy. There are three main routes by which the wood and forestry sectors can contribute: i) Biomass energy ii) Green infrastructure and buildings which are related to forest products and iii) The role of forest resources as carbon sinks, which is related to its resources.

In this context, the Government of Pakistan has begun the first phase of planting 10 billion trees w in hole country. During the first phase 3.25 billion trees will be planted with a projected cost of 105 billion rupees. The initiative is being termed as unleashing the potential of green economy in Pakistan.

The opportunity to give a free rein to green economy and growth in Pakistan is only possible if forest sector is sustainably developed. Long-term forest investments are to utilize the immense potential of forests contributions in terms of resilient ecosystems, national economy, and global environment. The government has already taken a better step by launching Green Pakistan Program (GPP) at national level and the striking provincial initiative of Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Program (BTTAP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Few policy interventions to address the challenges in the forestry sector and the consequent green economy/jobs are: proper implementation of National Forest Policy 2015; efficient coordination among provincial and federal institutions for better management; conducive policy environment for private sector participation; effective forest management information system; Research and Development at provincial and federal level, increasing the forest cover for the uplifting of socio-economic status and environmental gains; forest resource-based entrepreneurship and improved and sustainable forest management practices.


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