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STRATEGY OPTIONS

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Achieving the national vision for REDD+, considering forests ecosystems as a public good and source of multiple benefits, requires that the National REDD+ Strategy considers the different drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, including indirect or underlying causes, in order to remove them to ultimately reduce or even stop the loss and degradation of forests, and to conserve and enhance forest carbon stocks. Due to the diversity and complexity of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in the country, there is no single solution, so a mosaic of alternatives is to be implemented to effectively and sustainably achieve the country’s REDD+ strategic objectives, including multiple benefits and ensuring long-term resilience and adaptation to climate change.

Additionally, Pakistan already has successful experiences and projects, at various scales and funding sources, in the topics proposed as strategy options. The National REDD+ Strategy needs to be built on that basis to support, expand, scale-up, or adjust current initiatives and projects. Some of these initiatives include (but are not limited to): Sustainable Forest Management to Secure Multiple Benefits in High Conservation Value Forests by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Green Pakistan Project (at the national level), and the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Most of the anthropogenic drivers of deforestation and forest degradation occur because the economic, legal, and social conditions favor activities that result in deforestation or forest degradation, instead of encouraging forest protection or sustainable use.

The Strategy Options are intended to modify productive practices to improve sustainability and are designed with the logic of creating appropriate incentives, encouraging the owner or user and other stakeholders to behave sustainably. This requires not only a good design of the activities per se but also a complex set of supporting conditions to render and sustain over time, known as the implementation Framework and presented in the next chapter.

These actions might include, but are not limited to, changes in legal frameworks, improved governance, land use planning at national, provincial, district, and local levels, awareness raising, and capacity building (which also has to be province-specific and related to forest categories and land tenure). It is important to acknowledge the different conditions across provinces and territories, as not all Strategy Options are similarly suitable for all of them, or at least not at the same level. The same strategy options might need to be implemented through different mechanisms in different provinces according to their circumstances.

It could also be the case that some provinces or territories come out with additional actions or new strategy options that could support the REDD+ objectives. It is also important to highlight that any action undertaken for REDD+ must also take into account and respect traditional practices and cultures. Please see Annex 6, which provides the guidelines for the development of Provincial REDD+ Strategies. To address the direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and the barriers to increasing forest carbon stocks, as described in Chapter 2, there are three broad alternatives available to the country to achieve REDD+ objectives:

Enhancement of forests capacity to capture and maintain carbon:

Keeping the carbon stored in the forest is the most important environmental service related to REDD+. This alternative would provide mechanisms to ensure current (and new) forests maintain and increase their health and functioning in order to keep the carbon stock from being released into the atmosphere, contributing to the ‘plus’ in REDD+ by enhancing carbon stock, and in some cases conserving the carbon that is already in forest ecosystems. Strategy Options under this alternative are intended

1) to promote the process of returning degraded forests to their original structure, productivity, ecological integrity, and species diversity;

2) to promote the establishment of forest through planting or deliberate seeding on land that, until then, was not classified as forest; or

3) to promote the re-establishment of forest through planting and/or deliberate seeding on land classified as forest.

Reduction of pressure on forest ecosystems:

The drivers related to the unsustainable use of forest products and services are among the most important, causing forest deterioration and over time, forest loss. Unsustainable use has different underlying causes, including poor law enforcement and governance, lack of management plans for the case of unsustainable timber extraction; but also lack of access to energy sources, reduced access to productive alternatives, among others. The strategy options under this strategic alternative would reduce the pressure and risk of deforestation and forest degradation through the use of the forest resources in such a way that maintains its ecologic integrity and provides goods (such as timber, fuelwood, and fibers) and services (biodiversity, water, and climate regulation). This alternative also includes schemes in which compensation to the forest owners is provided to ensure ecosystems conservation.

Promotion of improved and integrated livelihood approaches.

Some of the most important drivers of deforestation are related to land use change due to economic and livelihood activities around forest areas. Some of these activities in practice impose risks to and pressure on ecosystems by expanding the area where they are performed. This alternative is intended to be implemented in areas where agriculture and livestock are being raised or is expanding, to promote sustainable activities around forest areas. These activities include the combined use of forestland or woodland for both wood production and animal production by grazing of the coexisting indigenous forage, or vegetation that is managed like indigenous forage.

lt also involves and-use systems and technologies where woody perennials (trees, shrubs, palms, bamboos, etc.) are deliberately used on the same land-management units as agricultural crops and/or animals, in some form of spatial arrangement or temporal sequence. Each of these proposed alternatives could be implemented through a specific set of actions known as the Strategy Options. Even though the Strategy Options are classified to fit only one Strategic Alternative, depending on how they are implemented, they could have impacts in view of other alternatives as well. Similarly, each Strategy Option has at least one REDD+ activity, which can also have impacts on others.

For example, a restoration project that is aimed at enhancing forest capacity to capture carbon could also help reduce pressure on the adjacent forest and could produce medium to long-term conditions to serve as a source of alternative revenue through ecotourism. When planning for the implementation of the Strategy Options, one must consider not only the direct drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, but also, with equal weight, the current economic activities performed in the territory, cultural practices, and other social aspects, such as gender equality or land tenure. In this way, the Strategy Options should enhance people’s ability to ensure a sustained livelihood without compromising their income-generating capacity. In other words, REDD+ implementation respects and fully addresses environmental and social safeguards.

It is assumed that there are risks and benefits associated with the implementation of each Strategy Option. The SESA (Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment) Process serves to identify potential risks and benefits related to the implementation, as well as sources of complaints and grievances for each Strategy Option. The Environmental and Social Management Framework establishes mechanisms to manage and address the risks and enhance the benefits from REDD+ implementation. Table 6shows the strategy options for the country. These options must be refined when implemented in the provinces and territories to effectively incorporate local conditions and needs, including specific drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, and e.g., institutional, legal, and economic circumstances.

Land-uses and economic and social activities are complex and interrelated, so Strategy Options should be implemented complementarily according to the local conditions and to aspirations concerning a landscape approach. All land uses, and activities in a territory should be considered as an integrated landscape instead of as individual activities, and the social and economic conditions should be taken into account. Activities from the three Strategic Alternatives could be performed at the same time in the same landscape.

For example, in a place where forests have been degraded by extraction of fuelwood, and the remaining land is used for subsistence agriculture, it is possible to restore the forest with the purpose of harvesting firewood sustainably, and at the same time, to apply agroforestry practices to generate additional wood resources, thus reducing pressure on the forest. Considering the territory as a whole landscape during planning not only, enhances the results for the actions undertaken but also might provide a new perspective to diversify income sources. Implementing the Strategy Options requires both design of the specific intervention and the enabling conditions as described in the Implementation Framework. As a result, the Strategy will certainly provide benefits beyond carbon stocking, such as increased biodiversity, enhanced capacity to address impacts of climate change, and improved livelihood opportunities. Of special emphasis in the Implementation, Framework is the governance at different levels. Good governance is an enabling condition for REDD+ and is thus thoroughly considered in the Implementation Framework.

This is reflected in the discussions, as governance has been treated separately and has also been embedded in all other Strategic Options. Governance issues (deficiencies in legislation and rules and sometimes their inadequate enforcement the capacity of the court to process legal cases, retest administration capacity, land tenure issues institutional mandates, and capacity, etc.) considerably contribute to the conditions responsible for the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

Thus, correctly addressing governance issues, such as the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation, is fundamental to the REDD+ Strategy. It must be noted that Strategy options provide interventions in a particular aspect while the Implementation Framework (refer to section 6) elucidates the themes that have to cut across all interventions under the strategy, while the Roadmap for Implementation in Section 7 is a set of specific actions to begin implementation framework. The seven Strategy Options are described in more detail in the following section.

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

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