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Trends in Forest Cover and Change

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The basis for addressing deforestation and forest degradation is knowledge not only of the drivers but also of the land use, and of how the usage changes over time and space. In the case of Pakistan, land tenure and natural resource rights have an important influence on land use.

Land Cover/ Land Use in Pakistan

As of the time of this study, a comprehensive assessment with a good degree of land cover accuracy and land cover change in Pakistan was not in existence. In 2004, the Ministry of Environment (now the Ministry of Climate Change, MoCC) launched a National Land Use Plan Project under which the Land Use Atlas of Pakistan was developed. The data for the Atlas was obtained from the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), the National Agricultural Research Centre, the International Water, and Salinity Research Institute, the Soil Survey of Pakistan, and the Survey of Pakistan. In addition to the location of different land uses and land cover, the R-PP presents the changes in the period from 1994 to 2004, with a small increase in the total area of 0.39% for the decade. However, the positive change is due to an increase in farmland plantations that masks the reduction of the land covered by natural forests by 14,700 hectares per year (GoP, 2014).

The emissions related to land use, land use change, and forestry were estimated to be at 10.39 MT CO2equivalentfor 2015, which accounts for 2.5% of the total country emissions. However, a consistent but gradual increase in the emissions has been noticed over the last two decades and is expected to grow threefold by 2030 (GoP, 2016). The absence of a national forest inventory applying systematic forest data collection methods across all provinces means that the only research available is based on GIS, remote sensing, or localized inventory data. However, the thresholds have recently been defined in the process of adopting the National Definition of Forest Land (GoP, 2017) through an iterative and consultative process:

National Definition of Forest Land: A minimum area of land of 0.5 ha with tree crown cover of more than 10% comprising trees with the potential to reach a minimum height of 2 meters.

This Definition3 is the basis for the establishment of the National Forest Reference Emissions Level (NFREL) and the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS), which will provide information for a better understanding of the current situation and extent of the forests in the country. The NFREL is based on remote sensing and field information obtained systematically for the whole country. It will provide a robust estimate of the amount of historical deforestation and forest degradation as well as related emissions and removals, and it will set the basis for future comparisons.
Drivers of Deforestation and Forest Degradation Pakistan is a diverse country in its ecosystems, social groups, governance systems, land tenure, and cultures. It is also diverse in conditions that provide the basis for a wide variety of drivers and causes of deforestation and forest degradation, and barriers to conservation and enhanced forest carbon stock.

The direct drivers do not occur in isolation; instead, they are the result of underlying conditions that produce them, some of which have their base in the legal, policy and institutional framework. There have been some initiatives undertaken to understand the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation in Pakistan. These include REDD+ Readiness Preparation (R-PP), Pakistan Forestry Outlook Study and some localized studies and publications that address land use changes or drivers of deforestation. The findings reported are aligned with the results obtained from the consultations with stakeholders conducted for the development of the Strategy

Different ecosystems and forest types have different drivers of deforestation and forest degradation; however, some drivers are similar across provinces and territories, ecosystems, and forest types. During consultations, stakeholders in provinces and territories identified the unsustainable use of forests as the most important driver of deforestation and forest degradation, including extraction of fuelwood and timber, and free and/or uncontrolled livestock grazing and browsing. These activities have their roots in complex situations, ranging from poverty and lack of livelihood alternatives to weak governance, corruption, inefficient law enforcement, and poor or inexistent demarcation of forests. Table 2 provides a list of drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, developed based on the consultations held with diverse stakeholders consulted.

The National Definition of Forest Land includes existing irrigated plantations as well asareas that have been defined as forests in respective legal documents and that are expected to meet the required thresholds.

There are several routes or mechanisms through which deforestation and forest degradation occur. Some of these share similarities in various provinces and territories and can be grouped as follows: Poor law enforcement and governance: These issues have been identified as drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. These have encouraged encroachments on forest areas for various uses, including agriculture, housing, and habitations. Moreover, poor law enforcement and poor governance have engendered the illegal extraction of fuelwood, timber, and NTFPs from forests. Other similar impacts include widespread unlawful grazing, massive illegal mining/stone quarrying, increased incidences of fire, etc.

This is also evident from a large number of pending legal cases in the courts in all the provinces and territories, cases which are only multiplying with time. In addition to this, corruption within the domain of forests also serves as an incentive and an escape route for offenders. There are no nation-wide studies related to poor law enforcement and governance; however, there are some regional analyses that can provide references to the situation in some regions or dates. A study by Pellegrini, 2007 “The Rule of Jungle in Pakistan:

A Case Study on Corruption and Forest Management in Swat” discusses that corruption is a fundamental contributor to the current pattern of forest exploitation. It identifies corruption as crucial in the deforestation process: at every step of illegal logging, bribes are disbursed, during the extraction of logs, their transport, and their marketing. It notes that the ‘crime and punishment’ approach, which prescribes increase of monitoring activities and harsher punishments to decrease corruption, is not easily implemented if the overall institutional environment is not supportive, as is in the case of Pakistan.

Countrywide overhaul of the system to curb corruption, based on sweeping reforms, is a difficult and lengthy task, which is seldom accomplished (Kaufmann et al., 2005). Analyzing corruption in a case study setting induces to look for institutional reforms that are limited to a specific sector and that do not require far-reaching institutional change. Even though corruption is often cited in reports and articles about illegal logging, there is a general lack of insight due to the sensitivity of the subject, lack of willingness of stakeholders to formally speak or identify cases and other empirical research on this.

Expansion of unsustainable agriculture and cattle raising: A larger population and low productive practices are imposing the need for the expansion of land used for agriculture and cattle raising. This issue has been identified as the main driver of deforestation and forest degradation in most of the provinces and territories. The situation is fueled by the lack of productive alternatives, food insecurity, and poor law enforcement and governance. The increased pressure on household livelihoods, unemployment, and lack of alternatives in rural settings push the rural household economies towards an increased reliance on forest land for agriculture and cattle grazing/raising, resulting in deforestation and forest degradation.

Unsustainable timber extraction: The demand for timber has been on the rise due to the country’s quickly growing population. The conifer forests, mainly feeding the booming construction industry, have suffered badly. The unsustainable wood extraction is considered to be the major cause of deforestation and forest degradation. The timber removals of 3,327k m3 were estimated in 1993 whereas the average annual recorded out turn was around as 496k m3 during the 1984-88 period (Anon, 1992). It is evident that timber in excess to the recorded outturn is extracted from public forests. Similar results were found by another study assessing the timber consumption in 2002-03 as 12.238 million m3 wherein the contribution of state forests was 0.409 million m3 and that of imports as 0.639 million m3 while the remaining was attributed to supplies from farmlands (Maanis Int 2004). Similarly, around 8.313 million m3 unrecorded and illegal timber out-take were reported for 12 years period between 1996 and 2008 in Hazara and Malakand Civil Divisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Anon, 2010).

This state of affairs is mainly attributed to the organized smugglers “timber mafia” and “public and corrupt contractors and officials” (Anon, 2010 and anon, 1992). Extractions in excess to what is prescribed in the management plans. The prescriptions of the management plans are not followed to the letter or in spirit, neither in the extraction of timber nor in other operations, including the planting of trees to replace the trees removed during felling. Furthermore, many forests still do not have any management plans and therefore are not managed on a scientific basis. The deforestation and degradation of these forests have multiple effects on the environment and economy, as they occupy the fragile upland watersheds that drain into the river systems, which are the major source of water for irrigation in the plains. The situation would have been worse had the resources been not supported by the timber imports and spared by use of alternate material like steel and aluminum by the construction industry, even though these alternatives are not free of environmental impacts. According to NFRRAS (2004), the multi-temporal analysis conducted by the Ministry of Environment revealed that between 1992 and 2001, the total area under forest cover has reduced from 3.59 million ha to 3.32 million ha in Pakistan.

This reduction is equivalent to 27,000ha each year, and implies that the annual rate of change (deforestation) was 0.75%. However, the rate of deforestation was not uniform through the ten years. The rate of deforestation has been increasing. However, there is great variation in the estimates made by different organizations, in this respect. FAO (2007) recorded that on average an area of 31,658 ha (-0.75%) of natural forests is deforested annually, however, the annual average increase in the standing volume of farmland trees is 3.86% (FAO, 2007). A negative change in the forest area is observed during the period between 1996 and 2016 as concluded from the data included in the recently developed Arbonaut-WWF draft final report on FREL/FRL in Pakistan. The country has lost around 23,593 ha of forests per annum during the 20 years of1996 to 2016 (Arbonaut, WWF, 2018). The rate of deforestation has relatively decreased if compared with the NFRRAS and FAO reports referred above but is still quite significant.

Unsustainable fuelwood extraction: The intensifying pressure from unsustainable fuelwood extraction has badly affected all types of forests, including farmland trees in the country, as almost all the fuelwood needs are met by the local resources. The estimated fuelwood consumption was 26.223 millionm3 in 1993while the average annual recorded outturn was only 190k m3 (Anon 1992). Whereas about 50.902 millionm3 wood (84% of the wood extracted) was burnt as fuelwood during the 1996-2008 period in Malakand and Hazara Civil Divisions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Anon, 2010). A study conducted in 2003-03 reported the fuelwood consumption at 31.462million m3, of which 0.061 million m3 was provided by state forests and balance of 31.462 million m3(presumably) by farmlands (Maanics Int. 2004). Wood shortage faced by the country was identified to be around 29.361 million m3 for the same year which was met through over cutting of trees from various tree sources (Maanics Int. 2004). The rural population largely depends on wood for cooking and heating due to the easy and cheap availability and the lack of alternate energy sources. The use of traditional cooking stoves and inefficient space heating systems have resulted in wasteful burning, subsequently enhancing pressure on limited forest resources.

The thermal efficiency of some of the traditional systems is as low as 5% whereas the improved stoves and aluminum utensils can achieve an overall fuel saving of 30-40% over the traditional systems (Anon, 1993). Variability in water availability and quality: One important driver of deforestation and forest degradation is the decline of water flow in rivers, which is affecting the coastal mangroves and riverine forests, as these massively depend on fresh water for their growth and survival.

The situation initially arose due to the construction of reservoirs and barrages to feed the country’s canal irrigation network (one of the largest in the world), and also to run the powerhouses to generate electricity. The issue has been worsened by the decreased amount and changed the pattern of rains due to climate change. This reduced water flow in the rivers also gave way to the sea to intrude into river channels as well as low lying coastal areas, and to inflict further damages on the forests and associated biodiversity in these areas. An additional problem in mangrove areas around Karachi arises from the sewage entering the mangrove channels, leading to high pollution levels.

Based on the consultations with the stakeholders in provinces, apart from drivers of deforestations and forest degradation, indirect drivers are also identified. These indirect drivers are identified below. For reports of consultations with stakeholders at province level,

During consultations, these drivers and dynamics were discussed and ranked according to importance at provincial levels (see Annex 1 Provincial REDD+ Strategy Briefs for details at each Province). That information was further

refined with references in the literature and synthesized to be coherent for the national level. This was done by combining and ranking findings from provinces by importance or influence on overall deforestation and degradation. More detailed information on the location and extent of the changes in the land cover, including deforestation and degradation, will be available with the Forest Reference Emission Level and the National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS).

S Social and Gender Contexts According to the census report of 2017, the total population of Pakistan is 207.7 million (excluding Azad Jammu Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, estimated to be at 1.8 million). The population density is about 250 persons fkm2 (UNSD, nd). Punjab is the most populated province, while Karachi is the most populated city. This makes Pakistan. the fifth most populous country in the world, accommodating 2.63% of me world population. The annual growth rate is 2.4%, with a 57% increase in population since 1998. which is one of the highest in South Asia. The male-to-female ratio is 51.2% to 49.8%, respectively (GoP, nd-a). Pakistan hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world as well as having a young population About 60% of its population is between the age group of 15 to 64 years. Over 97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim, while the remaining 3% is comprised of Christians, Hindus, and others.

The overall literacy rate stands at 60%. with males at 69% and females at 45% (GoP, nd-b). According to the 2009 Human Development Report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 60.3% of Pakistanis live on less than USD a day. The Pakistan National Human Development Report gave Pakistan an HDI score of 0.541, whereas the Human Development Report 2006 gave it a score of 0.539 (UNDP, 2016). Labour force participation (both male and female) in the formal sector is approximately 24 percent in rural areas and 30 percent in urban areas. Agriculture, together with its allied sectors, is one of the primary sources of livelihood for about 42 percent of the population in Pakistan, which has mostly rural population.

Manufactuing, construction. trade, transport, social, and personal services are among other major sources of livelihoods (GoP. nd-b). There is a high rate of unemployment in both rural and urban areas. Rural to-urban migration is high in Pakistan. as people leave in search of better social and economic opportunities, including employment and access to electricity. gas. sanitation, education. health, and housing facilities. This is why the country has experienced rapid urbanization in the last few decades. The current urban population of Pakistan is 38.8 percent, while 50 percent of Pakistanis reside in towns of 5,000 people or more (UN Data, nd). The rural population, which is about 60 percent, experiences a higher level of poverty than does the urban population, according to social and economic indicators. It has a high dependence on green sector sources, including forests for their livelihoods.

They redrive multiple benefits offered by forests Local communities, including men, women, nomads, and seasonal migrants have formal and informal rights in forests as forest owners and forest us, under various land tenure arrangements and are heavily dependent on forest products and services. Local community women in particular collect firewood and fodder, graze their animals and collect NTFPs. With a high prevalence of poverty in the country. especially in rural areas, and with the lack of livelihood opportunities, forests are important social and economic resources for local rural populations. However, women and children are mostly responsible for collecting fuelwood and fodder, and for grazing of animals at the household level. especially when forests are located within proximity of the village or house. This is time consuming and laborious work for both women and children.

It directly affects their health. energy levels, and education opportunities. Also, women are responsible for other household chores. including fetching of water from long distances. The reduction in forest cover and forest resources has therefore impacted women more severely than men, especially regarding having to cover long distances to reach forest resources. The consultation process highlighted that women generally do not participate in the decision-making processes in forest management. projects, and programs. Community men are the decision makers and points of contact for forest authorities. The lack of female staff in the forest departments at the provincial levels has further complicated the situation. Culturally, men from outside the communities are not allowed to interact with community women, so contact is not appreciated.

Thus women, as important forest users and stakeholders, remain outside the sphere of consultation and decision-making processes. In addition to local resident communities, nomads and seasonal migrants also have a high dependency on forest resources. These are mostly livestock rearing communities who settle in areas with forest and grazing resources. The presence of seasonal migrants and nomads is more prominent in KP, FATA. Baluchistan, and GB. However, provincial forest departments do not have a community outreach component in their routine operations. which limits their ability to engage with these stakeholders. Moreover, there are few to no active community-based forest management committees in the provinces. It, therefore, becomes imperative to mainstream the rights and benefits of local communities; female and male forest users, rights holders, nomads, and seasonal migrants in the strategy to achieve REDD + objectives.

There have been several donor-funded projects implemented in almost all provinces in the forestry sector, using a community-based participatory approach. These projects have also engaged vulnerable groups, including women, nomads, and seasonal migrants. through project staff, which has included both men and women. These projects have shown positive results regarding forest conservation and management as well as in diversification of communities’ livelihoods and social and economic status. The consultation process highlighted that engagement of women as forest users and managers have added value to the impact of projects. Further, engaging women in technical capacity building programs. such as forest conservation and management. can particularly improve results.

Expanding on these positive results, The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Department has mainstreamed community outreach and gender development components in its cooperation’s, focusing on both male and female community members. To mainstream all stakeholders in the REDD+ process, provincial departments need to allocate additional resources to reach out to forest-dependent communities. FAO recommends allocation of at least 30% of the budget to the development of women in programmes and projects. Given the importance and role of women in forests in Pakistan, a 30% allocation of the budget is appropriate at this stage, but the budget should be increased gradually to meet the Sustainable Development Goals target of 50% by 2030.

To better understand the complex dynamics of land use and land use change, which is closely related to land tenure and rights to access natural resources, tabled presents an overview of the different land tenure modalities and their relation to formal and informal use of natural resources. Table4strives to illustrate the complexities and differences present in the country, and also to promote understanding of the diverse dynamics that occur. As can be seen from the table, there is diversity in the land tenure systems, rights. And legal and other social dynamics. However, there is a general lack of scientific work on the forest land tenure system, with some studies profiling and providing the context of the tenure system in Pakistan. The following broader steps are proposed to address the complexity of issues in land tenure:

The land tenure system is embedded in the social and economic spheres of communities. It is recommended to undertake scientific studies to understand the context and magnitude of local and provincial level tenure issues, with the involvement of the relevant stakeholders. The prevalence of multiple tenure systems (Shariah-based. traditional and post-colonial land tenure systems) lead to conflicts. Often, the same stretch of land is under the influence of multiple tenure systems, providing opportunities for the offenders to take advantage of loopholes. This can be addressed through land tenure reforms at each province level. Also, there is a need to update and enhance the legal framework concerning land tenure to protect the right of owners, right-holders and also the right of the forest land.

To understand and to manage the complex land tenure system. forest departments in all provinces are not well equipped regarding institutional and human resources. To address such a complex issue, a dedicated unit within the forest department can be established so that all land tenure issues can be processed through the Unit This unit can be beneficial in future when REDD+ related payments are to be made, where land and tree tenure, ownership and rights will become a bone of contention.

Conclusively, the global trends and the national context puts forests as a foremost agenda of today, where UNFCCC is using the REDD+ approach to contribute towards reducing carbon emissions. This strategy document is conducting to Pakistan’s efforts towards this commitment and towards UNFCCC obligations. However, as it is evident in the discussions in the previous section, the forest cover of Pakistan is not sufficient for its national needs, as well as for potential future demands of the international carbon market. The is fewer forest cover in almost all forms and geographical region of Pakistan and while there have been recent efforts to increase forest cover. a general gradual loss has been observed.

The drivers for this loss include fuelwood. timber needs. livestock grazing. agricultural expansion, housing and encroachment. mining and drought. apart from other drivers that contribute. but to a lesser extent. This is coupled with and exacerbated by the poor law enforcement. weak governance of forests. weak judicial system. low penalties. weak monitoring system. as well as low ability to implement forest management plans. These indirect drivers entail a need to understand the current legal and institutional framework in the country given international commitments related to carbon emissions and forestry etc. Also. these drivers cannot be controlled and eliminated until the strategy understands the types/ classes of forests and laws governing them. the key issues and challenges therein. as well as the possible strategies to address these issues. The next section of the strategy discusses the legal and governance framework concerning forests.

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