Forests are the backbone of sustainable economic growth of Pakistan and business community should invest in forestry sector in Punjab to achieve lucrative returns, observed Tahir Rasheed, Chief Executive Officer of South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) while addressing a seminar on “Investment Opportunities in Forestry Sector in South Punjab” here at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Friday.
The seminar was organized by ICCI in collaboration with SPFC to sensitize the business community about the investment potential in green future. Tahir Rasheed said that as per FAO 2015 report just 1.9% of the total area of Pakistan was covered with forests while the country witnessed average deforestation rate of 2.1% from 1990 – 2015, which was alarming.
He said if this deforestation rate continued for next 50 years, Pakistan would be a country devoid of any forest. However, he said given the increasing demand for wood products, forestry sector offered attractive investment opportunities with high returns and low risk.
He said SPFC has been allocated 134,995 acres of land in 6 districts of South Punjab including Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan, Rajanpur and Muzzafargarh for forestry and added that investment in these areas would not only ensure sustainable supply of firewood, fodder, fibre, plywood, paper and pulp to meet the needs of the forest-based industry, it will also reduce the import bill of the country, promote green investments and create green jobs in the rural areas of South Punjab. He said investors would be provided encroachment-free land and they could invest in 6-8 species of forestry.
He assured that SPFC would provide technical and other support to the investors and would coordinate with key stakeholders for addressing any environmental or ecological concerns.
Speaking at the occasion, Tahir Ayub, Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the initiatives of SPFC and hoped that its efforts would promote green entrepreneurship. He assured that ICCI will play role in promoting this idea as it would contribute positively towards green economic growth, innovation and jobs creation.
He suggested that a specific security force on the pattern of CPEC project force should be considered for ensuring investment protection in green future. The seminar aimed to incorporate the views of ICCI members to make the process inclusive which can be incorporated in the upcoming feasibility study.