By Asim Nawaz Abbasi
Pakistan faces immense problems of deforestation and forest degradation. Area less than three percent of the total area is under forests in Pakistan. Efforts aimed at combating deforestation and increasing the forest area have failed to yield the desired results due to lack of awareness.
To fill the gap SDPI a leading think tank in Pakistan is making every effort to aware people through media about REDD+ project.
In this regard a group of journalists were taken to Guzara forest of Murree where they were briefed about REDD+ project. District Forest Officer (DFO) Rawalpindi Iftikhar Ul Hassan Farooqui briefed media that there is immense need of capacity building and awareness to minimise deforestation. Poverty is also a major contributor in forest degradation as livelihood of poor people through out the country including this region (Murree) depends on cutting trees.
Farooqi said increased urbanization is one of the major causes of deforestation. To meet residential and industrial requirements, such as for the development of housing on a mass scale besides, construction of roads, mineral exploitation and industrial expansion, forests are being cleared on a large scale he added.
Divisional Forest Officer (Guzara forests) Asad Ali while briefing media said that local communities are least interested in combating climate change. They should take this matter seriously and be aware about consequences of deforestation and forest degradation.
Moazzam Bhatti Director SDPI raised a serious concern that most of the forests are being cut by government itself in the name of infrastructure development without taking into consideration the effects as Pakistan has already been declared 7th most vulnerable country to climate change.
Journalists suggested to officials of Forest department that capacity building and awareness to lower staff of forest department should be done pointing to forest guard when asked about the REDD+ he said “I don’t know about it”.
Junaid Zaid and Maryam Shabbir from SDPI also gave insights about the REDD+ and importance of implementation as Pakistan signed the REDD-plus readiness grant from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility in 2015 under which it would get $3.8 million for the implementation of the activities.