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Strategies for Improved Governance and Institutional Arrangements

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Based on SWOT and other analysis presented in the preceding chapters, the following strategic actions are suggested for improvement in technical and extension services:

  1. Addressing policy gaps and legal framework.
  2. Organization development and improvement of coordination.
  3. Improvement of technical management, extension and outreach.
  4. Improvement of financial and human capacities.
  5. Improved forestry governance
  6. Revision of forestry manual.

Addressing policy gaps and legal framework

Pakistan’s forest policies and legal frameworks need to be updated at both national and sub national levels. Pakistan’s National Forest Policy 2015 provides a broad framework for addressing issues of forestry sector and allied renewable natural resources and their sustainable management and development. The Policy gives broad guidelines to the Federal and Provincial Governments for ensuring the sustainable management of their forestry resources. The provinces also have provincial policies grounded in in local realities.

There is a need for:

i) Strengthening and harmonizing forestry policy and legal frameworks at national and subnational level, especially in cases where these have remained unchanged since long. In many cases, stringent rules and regulations were formulated with a protectionist orientation which has instilled a controlling (rather than participatory) mindset in the institutions. This is also inconsistent with REDD+ intent to assure multi-stakeholder
ii) Alignment among sectoral policies, such as tourism, mining, agriculture and water with the National Forest Policy is needed to promote sustainable forest management policies. Integration of forest policy with other sectoral development policies and programmes requires improved coordination, communication, and exchange among departments at planning, and programming stages to avoid conflicts with sustainable forest management
and ensure do no harm and effectiveness on ground. The process of alignment may support ownership for sustainable forest management with other sectoral policy making bodies.
iii) Strengthening institutional capacities for preparation of forest policies relevant to climate mitigation and adaptation and biodiversity conservation. This will require ensuring the availability of qualified manpower at federal and sub-national levels. In case of KP, with the merger of FATA, a fresh review of policies and legislations may be needed.
iv) Development of policy implementation strategies including support for full operationalization of REDD+ institutional structures established at national and provincial levels and a communication strategy for promoting ownership with large segments of society and opinion making to counter political interference in forest management
v) Ensuring financial support for effective implementation of forest policies.
vi) Development of a policy implementation monitoring and feedback system to formulate informed policies in the future.

Organization development and future coordination mechanism

Despite the presence of several coordination forums discussed in chapter 2, an effective working relationship among sub-national forest departments and sister departments is lacking. A similar disconnect exists between OIGF and the provincial forest departments. To strengthen the
coordination the following strategy is advised.

i. A robust national forest monitoring system may assist OIGF in performing its coordinating role effectively.
ii. In addition, it is also important to ensure coordination at provincial level with other departments, rural development agencies and NGOs for their cooperation in natural
resource management to serve mutual objectives (e.g., DRR, livelihoods, income generation, and community empowerment).
The roles and responsibilities of the sub-national Forest Departments regarding communal and private lands (guzara) are limited. In view of the new tasks related to climate change and enhancement of biodiversity, guzara and communal lands have a significant role to play. In this context the following strategy may be applied.
iii. The mandate of the sub-national Forest Departments may be reviewed and properly framed in discussion with the private forest owners, and supportive organizations (e.g., NGOs and civil society organizations). This is to reduce the trust deficit which currently exists and to address owners’ genuine concerns through participatory forest management planning in context of REDD+. This should be supported by policies and legislation amendments to incorporate provisions with roles of community groups and owners.
iv. Besides, the new tasks may require restructuring of the departments to incorporate new or strengthen and redefine functions, like extension and monitoring.

Improvement of technical management, extension, and outreach

An important caution is to avoid as far as possible a separation or parallel structures within the forestry organizations. A more successful approach may be to inculcate teamwork among the technical and extension wings of forestry departments. Important components that contribute to successful forestry extension programmes include the professional skills of the forestry extension staff in community participation and outreach. This should be underpinned by a supportive legal framework allowing local stakeholders to share the benefits of sustainable forest management. Similarly, the organizational structure for the forest extension service should be conducive for extension staff to function effectively, i.e., opportunities to engage with local communities, and attractive salary and incentive structures.

The subnational forest departments need to establish and strengthen existing extension systems. Most of the existing forestry staff working in the extension section had no formal training or capacity to provide best possible services as professional extensionists. Therefore, the strategy should aim to encourage creation of an independent section within the departments with sufficient regular professional extension staff along with all modern communication facilities. Also, extension tasks need to be part of the job descriptions of territorial staff to involve them in collaborative forest management approaches. The supportive means of forestry extension are to be employed to convey messages such as, through website and social media, print and electronic media, documentaries, short training sessions, seminars, visits of demonstration sites, slide shows, forestry journals, and workshops.

Forestry extension cannot function without proper technical know-how for sustainable forest management, including the REDD+, climate change and biodiversity. This implies the need for permanent, strong linkages with research institutes and universities for skills development and partnership building in as well as strong linkages and joint workplans of technical territorial and forestry extension staff. Forest extension requires an integrated process, which calls for close working relationships and joint efforts between government agencies and NGOs. In the last few decades, agroforestry or farm forestry emerged as major contributor of trees outside the forests. Agroforestry is now an important source of wood supply in the country as well. The main reason behind this changing trend is increased wood demand due to ban on green felling from natural forests since 1992. Therefore, a strong coordination between Forest and Agriculture Departments is needed to promote agroforestry, and to bring marginal degraded and abandoned agricultural lands under tree cover.

Improved forestry extension services are essential to engage with community groups, private landholders, and agriculture growers and promote through sustainable (collaborative) forest management through mutual trust.

The strategies to raise the level of technical management and forest extension services in the
country need a range of actions, such as:

1) Capitalize on previous experiences in collaborative forest management in the country and use the lessons learnt for community involvement in forestry extension models, applying new technology (including for monitoring; and law enforcement).

ii) Encourage sub-national forest departments to apply Joint Forest Management (collaborative management) and innovative strategies to restore degraded forest areas by involving local communities through reforms in existing forestry laws and new technical and scientifically proved interventions regarding all forest resources including NTFP.

iii) Develop a comprehensive model of forestry extension in close collaboration with Agriculture departments and operationalize it in target areas.

iv) Formally recognize community groups formed under the forestry projects or prevalent in forest rich areas to engage with.

v) Improve current forest extension related capacities with continuous research, training, and knowledge sharing.

vi) Launch broad-based awareness campaigns about values of forest ecosystem in socioeconomic development directed towards the public at large.

Improvement of financial and human capacities

The major challenge of the forestry sector to successfully manage forestry resources depends on the availability of adequate finances and availability of well-trained human resources. Building capacity of forestry manpower will require long-term efforts and sustenance of investments.

To improve the financial portfolio of forestry sector in next 5 to 10 years the following strategy
is recommended:

i) Link the ongoing mega-projects and programmes with achievements of national as well as international commitments such as the SDGs, to attract finances from international funding mechanisms, such as GEF, GCF, and various bilateral donor countries.

ii) Explore finances from carbon trading under the REDD+ initiative under partnership arrangements with local communities and the private sector.

iii) Explore and work out innovative funding mechanisms like public-private partnerships (PPP) that have the potential to attract investments in forestry sector. In this regard partnerships with the private sector especially the tourism sector may help significantly to scale-up the financial resources for a range of forest biodiversity protection activities.

iv) Assess and promote recognition of the forestry sectors’ direct and indirect contributions to Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) as motivation for additional public funding.

v) Improve the NTFPs value chain development and related marketing mechanisms to create opportunities for income generation for local communities.

Human resources need to be strengthened both in quantitative and qualitative terms. Vacant staff positions need to be filled with competent staff. Besides, development through regular capacity-building activities is recognized as an important way forward to improve institutional capabilities required for sustainable forest management. The existing capacities of provincial forest departments and other stakeholders throughout the country require systematic improvements to avail the new technological advantages. Country wide programmes would be needed for strengthening human resource capacities of forest departments.

The strategies to improve the existing human resource capacity of the forestry sector are:

i) Undertake capacity needs assessment of forestry departments in terms of quantity and quality.

ii) Fill the vacant posts with competent staff. The fact that many positions lay vacant provides the opportunity to look for staff with competences required for the emerging needs of the sector and the departments. Discussions with the Finance Department will be needed to live up to the commitment of sanctioned posts in view of the national and global interests due to the dramatic climate change taking place.

iii) Scale up existing training and capacity building activities and coordinate them with capacity building programmes of other related sectors (e.g., agriculture, water management; tourism).

iv) Equip and modernize existing education, training and research institutions such as PFI with skilled human resources and training facilities.

v) Expand and broaden cooperation for capacity enhancement in forestry sector among diverse stakeholders to ensure continuity of the programme. Improve the capacity of a wide range of forestry sector stakeholders in management, harvesting and processing of NTFPs.

vi) Enhance capacity of forestry manpower in forestry governance (legal aspects, policy making, advocacy, conflict resolution)

vii) Develop and implement an effective communication strategy to help employees to overcome communication gaps within their own departments.

Improved forest resource governance

The provincial forestry departments’ functions mainly include,
i) Policy and regulation
ii) Law enforcement to control illegal tree cutting and encroachment
iii) Forestry resource management
iv) Monitoring of forest resources
v) Devise strategies to improve forestry resources while ensuring sustainable livelihoods

The use of new technology and other management tools such as the application of GIS based planning and monitoring systems have only been recently introduced in forestry sector. The strategy will be to promote the adoption of tools and technology to improve forest management,
monitoring and decision-making. It is important to overcome lack of appetite for new technology in forest management and introduce new skills among young foresters. The sub-national forest management entities also lack capacities in areas such as integration of sustainable management principles, biodiversity conservation, landscape and ecosystem-based management, and carbon forestry.

To meet the forestry sector challenges improvement in the forest governance structure and system is needed. This includes improving the way policy making, implementation, monitoring, coordination take place and cooperation with actors is sought for achieving the goals effectively and efficiently. The national and sub-national forestry institutions need to adopt new technologies. With changing forest policy discourses and an increasing emphasis on participatory management, forest governance systems will become transparent, decentralized, accountable and efficient.

Forest governance in the new context will also require changes in the strategy to organize the sub-national Forest Departments and manage human resources. It may involve the reconsidering the organizational set-up because of the influx of new professions. It also requires revisiting job descriptions and ways of undertaking performance reviews especially regarding the technical and extension tasks – in parallel to the conventional ACR (Annual Confidential Report) system as a separate measure to assess performance of forestry staff with awards for recognition of outperformers.

Revision of forestry manual

The forestry manual is a systematic compilation of information on the notified laws, rules, procedures, job descriptions, and other relevant legal, financial, and organizational processes. It is a document which can be termed as a ready reference guidebook that helps forest formations in their day-to-day field as well as official operations. Forestry manuals themselves are not a legally binding document. The staff of all provincial forest departments certainly refers to individual original legal documents contained in the manual (e.g., Forest Act 1927, AJK Forest Regulation (Amendment) Act 2017, Punjab Protected Areas Act 2020, KP Management of Guzara Rules 2004, Balochistan Rules of Business 2012 etc.) In Pakistan, except Balochistan Forest Department, all other sub-national forest entities occasionally refer to forestry manuals for their official use. Balochistan reported not using the manuals at all but individual legal documents.

The detailed managerial responsibilities and related rules and procedures in practice of subnational forest departments are spelled out in Forestry Manuals, as follows:

i) Forest Manual, Volume-I, dealing with forest administration, forest acts and the rules made under the Forest Acts

ii) Forest Manual, Volume-II, addressing matters related to establishment, accounts, and budget

iii) Forest Manual, Volume-III, dealing with procedures and preparation of working plans, management plans, etc.

In most of cases, it was found that there was substantial realization about importance of revision of forestry manuals, but the departments have failed to update and revise the manuals to make them at par with the changing needs of forestry sector. The existing status of the forestry
manuals are as follows:

a) Punjab

The provincial Forest Department has revised its Forest Manual in 2020 by incorporating updated information regarding establishment of forest companies and public private partnership rules. However, yet it lacks information on purpose, objectives, working modalities of the recently
created forestry extension wing within the department. Similarly, it is also silent about REDD+, and SFM guiding principles adopted by the department. All these new trends and related information still needs legal and policy backing. The new forest policy addresses new elements of
sustainable forest development initiatives to some extent but without strong legal support.

b) Sindh

The forest manual of the province in its present form is outdated and needs revision to accommodate routine procedural information such as changes in the delegation of powers, the objectives of forest policy, formalization of de facto practices (hunting rules, transit rules, etc.),
and the recently evolved organizational set up of the department to improve forest management, forestry extension, REDD+ implementation procedures and the rules for community participation.

c) Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The forest manuals of KP comprise three tiers containing information on legal, structural, and financial reforms. It has been revised in 2018 but not yet approved and notified. It covers the existing extension system in operation. Further, it has not yet integrated the new role of REDD+ in forest management. The monitoring mechanism was not under consideration during revision.

d) Balochistan

The Provincial Forest department does not consider the forest manual as an important guiding tool to be followed without any legal standing and because the manual is not compatible to the ground realities of the province. It is felt that the forest management systems in place fulfil the
needs of the province and there is no need to maintain a separate forestry manual.

e) Gilgit-Baltistan

The revision of the GB forest manual is in draft updating its three parts i) establishment, ii) laws, and iii) services. Among new mechanisms REDD+ has been addressed in different policy interventions. However, it may require separate rules. Changes in forest planning and monitoring
systems are not part of forestry manuals under revision. As regards to the forestry extension system, changes have been integrated in new Forest Act 2019.

f) Azad Jammu & Kashmir

The AJK Forest Department has updated its forestry manual in 2017 with the inclusion of new information regarding ban on land use changes and actions approved against forest encroachers. Similarly, carbon has been recognized as commodity under REDD+ mechanism in the revised Forest Act 2017. The effective monitoring concerning implementation of workplans, and forestry extension system is planned to be streamlined during the next manual revision.

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