In The Name of ALLAH The Almighty
Deforestation in Chitral
Pakistan is a developing country and possesses only 4% forests in
its total land area. In most of the developing countries this ratio
is 20% and in developed nations more than 35%. The forests in
Pakistan are extended in 4200000 hectares area. In Sindh , 399000
hectares; Punjab, 608000 hectares; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , 1668000
hectares; Gilgit Baltistan,666000 hectares; Baluchistan, 592000
hectares and Azad Kashmir 267000 hectares area is covered with
forests.In Chitral forest are extended In an area of 70000
hectares. Moreover, technically speaking, forest doesn’t means only
coniferous and scrub forest rather Farmlands trees, Linear planting
and Riverain plantation are combined to make such statistical data.
Forests in ecological perspective plays two main important roles;
protective and productive. In protective aspects forests are
playing a balancing role between global warming and global dimming.
Forests are also required for a balanced ecosystem in terms of its
role as a barrier against natural disasters, soil erosion, flooding
and silting. It provides shelter for many types of wild animals and
thus has a part in maintaining biodiversity. In its productive side
forests are used for fuel wood and in the form of timber for
construction of buildings etc.
Deforestation is a havoc that can be defined as a long-term process
associated with forest land to convert it into other environmental
land such as agricultural or urbanized land. Deforestation may be
caused due to natural disasters or it may be caused by human
intervention. In recent decades, the dynamism in deforestation has
been observed. In developed countries the rate of deforestation is
quite stable, whereas, in developing as well as under-developed
countries, it has been advanced quite significantly as a result of
increasing rate of population, need for agricultural as well as
urbanized lands and need for harvesting forest biomass as fuel etc.
District Chitral is more unfortunate than other districts of
Pakistan, in terms of massive deforestation going on here for many
years. Seven millions trees have been marked for cutting since
1967. Local inhabitants have raised their concerns over many times
and have linked it with the authorities who are actually
responsible for the maintenance, management and safeguard it.
Local, National and even International media have gave a proper
space to raise this issue in many forms and fronts. In a
documentary made by Al Jazeera and shown on 12 August 2012, local
inhabitants have shown grave concern over deforestation in Chitral.
They have accused timber contractors, Police, government officials
and provincial forest department of this huge deforestation. In the
same documentary the officials of forest departments have mentioned
different problems and have asked for help from community to cope
this situation. Ruthless cutting of trees in the garb of marking
and windfall along with smuggling of illegal timber by mixing with
the timber of FDC has provided an excellent opportunity for a few
people to earn a large amount of money at the expense of the local
community. The forest in Chitral is depleting. If this pace
continues for a few years, Chitral will be converted into barren
land and new doors will be opened for natural disasters.
For proper management and utilization of forest National Forest
Policies were made in 1956, 1962,1980, 1991 and 2001 but none of
these have made any impact in a forestation, reforestation and in
controlling deforestation. In legislative front Forest Act of 1927
is still in practice and the forest ordinances of 1963 and 1964,
and many more by provincial assembly can also contribute for
halting the rate of deforestation but are directly linked with
proper execution by concerned authorities.
It is the time for ending blame game over this issue because it is
going to be irreversible chronic. Now it needs a joint strategy.
This is an alarming situation and needs to be stalled and then
reversed. Local community, provincial forest department, police and
other government has to hold hand to hand to combat it. More
responsible management approaches are being demanded that can
accommodate complex economic and ecological needs. It is the time
to diminish deforestation, and designation of selected forestlands
for agro-forestry practices and the development of plantations and
afforestation practices are needs of the hour.
Javeed Farooqi and Naveed Ullah Anjum