Pakistan needs to raise forest 25pc for green environment: report

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Pakistan should raise its forest cover from 5 per cent to 25 per cent to meet its economic, employment and green environment needs because forest is the source of economic support, employment, oxygen generation, livestock grazing, furniture products, boats, household oven fire, hotel fuel in cities and town, sports goods, and construction industry, according to a new research conducted by Preston Institute of Management Science and Technology’s (PIMSAT) MBA final year students which was released to PPI on Sunday.

The research was conducted by three students of PIMSAT – Syeda Bushra Hasan, Mehwish Saqib, and Dinsha Vania.

Briefing on the research, Bushra said that trees play vital role in economic support and green environment; hence, there is need to conduct mass tree plantation in villages, towns and cities. “There is also need to make tree plantation at new avenues like road sides, highways, streets, houses and gardens. Environment has become big sector of life; therefore, it needs more attention and funds from government. Trees also absorb oxygen and provide clean oxygen for survival of human beings and animals,” she noted in the research.

Mehwish Saqib said that the government needed to make mass tree plantation in Karachi like Lahore, while all towns and other cities also require mass tree plantation for reducing air pollution and providing clean air to citizens for their good health. “Those people who have space in their houses should plant at least one or two trees of fruits like mango and guava. This will also provide them fruit,” she said. According to the ministry of climate change, Pakistan’s current forest area is 5 per cent of its total land area which is low in the world, so it should be raised to a significant level,” Mehwish said.

Dinsha Vania told PPI that Pakistan needs mass tree plantation at plain, hilly and other empty areas with the support of private organisations and government. Funds should be sought from corporate sector because government funds are not enough, he noted.

According to the research, massive forest hacking is being done in the country. Estimated 5,00,000 workers are employed in forestry, and its related business like logging, carpentry, and timber products manufacturing, and tourism. The forests contribute only 0.3 per cent to GNP due to low area. Forest products are exported abroad. Forest is also source of tourism. But massive corruption has plagued this vital sector.

As per international environmental standards, Pakistan needs 25 per cent forest area for economic stability and environment protection. A healthy tree with length of five meters creates oxygen for four people daily.

Mangrove forests along coastal areas stop cyclones or divert them. Some 50 per cent oxygen in the atmosphere is created by forests and trees, while other 50 per cent is generated by oceans, according to NASA report. The annual forest budget of each province should be doubled for reforestation, tree plantation and their safety. The federal government funds should also be provided to each province for this cause. Funds from IUCN, WWF, World Bank, ADB, USAID and other agencies should be sought for this purpose.

An action plan comprising suggestions of all stakeholders should be prepared. Seminars and conferences should be arranged for raising awareness about the importance of forests and trees. Tube-wells should be installed for supply of water to forests. Separate forest police backed by Rangers should be introduced at tehsil level. District task force comprising three judges, two NAB officials and 20 local community people should also be formed with high salary package, health cover, insurance, and security, the research suggests.