FORESTRY & FOREST MANAGEMENT IN PAKISTAN

SAIMA IBRAHIM, RABIA BADAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

May 23 - 29, 2011

The United Nations General Assembly designated 29th December "The International Day for Biological Diversity" in late 1993 at first. However, in December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the adoption of the agreed text of the convention on biological diversity. This was partly done because many holidays coincided the previously declared day.

THEMES IDB

2011 - Forest Biodiversity
2010 - Biodiversity, Development, and Poverty Alleviation
2009 - Invasive Alien Species
2008 - Biodiversity and Agriculture
2007 - Biodiversity and Climate Change
2006 - Protect Biodiversity in Dry lands
2005 - Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World
2004 - Biodiversity: Food, Water, and Health for All
2003 - Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation - challenges for sustainable development
2002 - Dedicated to forest biodiversity

International Year of Forests and forest biodiversity is the theme for this year's IDB. The theme provides parties to the convention on biological diversity (CBD) and everyone interested in forests an opportunity to raise awareness and strengthen the sustainable forest management, conservation, and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.

The United Nations has declared 2011 the International Year of Forests to promote awareness of the vital importance of forests to our lives and to encourage the sustainable use of forest resources. The secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests is the focal point for implementation of the international year in collaboration with governments, the collaborative partnership on forests and other relevant organizations and processes. Governments, regional and international organizations and civil society organizations are expected to create national committees and designate focal points in their respective countries to facilitate organization of activities in support of the international year of forests.

Celebrations: The "Celebrate Forests. Celebrate Life." campaign is the official U.S. celebration. Coordinated by the national association of state foresters in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. celebration aims at to elevate awareness and understanding of the value of America's forests and showcase the connections between healthy forests, people, ecosystems and economies. The goal is to provide all forestry stakeholders with the ideas and resources to participate in the celebration over the year.

Forests are an integral part of global sustainable development. According to World Bank estimates, more than 1.6 billion people depend on forests for their livelihoods with some 300 million living in them. The forest product industry is a source of economic growth and employment with global forest products traded internationally estimated at $327 billion. Forests provide people with clean air and water.

The 2011 international year of forests initiative is designed to celebrate forests and to encourage sustainable use of forest resources. Forests cover approximately one-third of Earth's land area and harbor much of earth's biodiversity. Forests provide people with clean air, clean water, and valuable cultural and recreational opportunities. Additionally, forests play a key role in carbon sequestration and storage that helps to mitigate climate change.

Forest management is the branch of forestry concerned with the overall administrative, economic, legal, and social aspects and with the essentially scientific and technical aspects, especially silviculture, protection, and forest regulation. This includes management for aesthetics, fish, recreation, urban values, water, wilderness, wildlife, wood products, forest genetic resources and other forest resource values. Management can be based on conservation, economics, or a mixture of the two. Techniques include timber extraction, planting and replanting of various species, cutting roads and pathways through forests, and preventing fire.

Public awareness: There has been an increased public awareness of natural resource policy, including forest management. Public concern regarding forest management may have shifted from the extraction of timber to the preservation of additional forest resources including wildlife and old growth forest, protecting biodiversity, watershed management, and recreation. Many tools like GIS modeling have been developed to improve forest inventory and management planning.

Covered Area: In Pakistan. 2.2 per cent or about 1,687,000 ha is forested, according to food and agriculture organization (FAO) of UN. Of this 20.2 per cent (340,000 ha) is classified as primary forest, the most bio-diverse and carbon-dense form of forest. Pakistan had 340,000 ha of planted forest. Most of these forests are found in the northern part of the country (40 percent in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 15.7 percent in the northern areas, and 6.5 percent in the AJK. The total forest cover (4.8 percent) is low when compared with other parts of the world, 27 percent for the developed countries, and 26 percent for the developing countries. Pakistan has only 0.03 ha of forest per capita while corresponding figures for the developed and the developing countries are 1.07 and 0.50 respectively. With a population growth rate of 2.6 percent, forest per capita is declining in Pakistan. Between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan lost an average of 42,000 ha or 1.66 per cent per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan lost 33.2 per cent of its forest cover, or around 840,000 ha.

TOTAL FOREST COVERAGE

PARAMETER (HA) PAKISTAN ASIA WORLD
Total forest area in 2000 2,361 504,180 3,869,455
Natural forest area in 2000 1,381 375,824 3,682,722
Plantations area in 2000 980 110,953 186,733
Total dry land area in 1981 72,524 1,078,121 5,059,984
Percentage of forests (%) 3 20 29

Types of Forest in Pakistan:

* The coniferous forests occur from 1,000 to 4,000†m altitudes. Chitral, Swat, Upper Dir, Lower Dir, Malakand, Mansehra and Abbottabad districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Azad Kashmir and Rawalpindi district of the Punjab are the main areas covered with coniferous forests. Silver fir, spruce, deodar, blue pine, and chir pine are the most common varieties. The coniferous forests also occur in Balochistan hills. Chilghoza pine and juniper are the two most common species of Balochistan.

* The sub-tropical dry forests are found in the Attock, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Gujrat districts of the Punjab, and in the Mansehra, Abbottabad, Mardan, Peshawar and Kohat districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa up to a height of 1,000 m. In Balochistan, they are confined to the Sulaiman mountains and other hilly areas. Dominant tree species are phulai, kau and hopbush.

* The tropical thorn forests are dominated by xerophytic scrubs. They are most widespread in the Punjab plains but also occupy small areas in southern Sindh and western Balochistan. They are mainly used for grazing purposes, watershed protection, and fuel wood. Common species are vann, khejri, kair, etc.

* The irrigated plantations were first developed in 1866 at Changa Manga in Lahore. Today they occupy about 226,000 ha. Sheesham, mulberry, babul and species of Eucalyptus and Populus are the common tree species grown in the irrigated plantations.

* The riparian forests grow in narrow belts along the banks of River Indus and its tributaries. They are more commonly found in Sindh and to some extent in the Punjab. Babul, Shisham and Tamarax dioica are the most common species. Khejri and Populus euphratica are some other species. They are mainly used for lumber.

* The mangrove wetlands are located in the Indus River Delta. Other saltwater wetlands are located on the coast of Balochistan such as at Sonmiani and Jiwani. These support mangrove forestry, mainly of species Avicennia marina as well as bamboo species and marsh grasses of Apluda and Cenchrus.

FOREST BIODIVERSITY

The forests, scrub and trees on farmlands cover 4.73 million hectares or 5.014 per cent of the country. The total area of natural and modified coniferous, scrub, riverine and mangrove forests is less than 3.5 million hectares or 4 per cent of the country. If scrub forests are excluded, the total area of ėtall tree' forest falls to just 2.4 million hectares (2.7 per cent), of which four-fifths (2 million) have 'sparse' cover (patchy forests with less than 50 per cent cover). More specifically, more than half of Pakistan's remaining mangrove forests, more than two-thirds of remaining riverine forests, and more than nine-tenths of remaining coniferous forests have less than 50 per cent canopy cover. Good quality (greater than 50 per cent cover) ėtall tree' forest in Pakistan covers less than 400,000 hectares. The mangrove ecosystem is largest arid zone mangrove forests of the world; this national heritage is now quickly disappearing.

It is feared that Pakistan is experiencing the world's second highest rate of deforestation. This destruction is leading to the mass scale disappearance of trees, shrubs, and ground flora, together with the vertebrate and invertebrate fauna they normally support. The loss of forest habitat has had a severe impact on Pakistan's biodiversity, and has serious implications for the nation's natural and agro-ecosystems. Out of the nine vegetation types of Pakistan, five in the category of tall tree forest are found in the mountain areas. The following is brief description of their biodiversity.

ECONOMICAL VALUE OF FORESTRY: The forestry sector of Pakistan is a main source of lumber, paper, fuel wood, latex, medicine as well as human and animal food and provide ecotourism and wildlife conservation purposes. Other minor products include resin (a fluid in tissue of Chir pine plant that becomes solid on exposure to the air) and 'mazri' (used for making baskets). The forests also provide of ecotourism and wildlife conservation purposes. Forests have also been planted in some areas like Thal Desert to avoid soil erosion and further desertification. Riparian zone along the river Indus have been managed to avoid excess flooding.

About 500,000 cu m (17.6 million cu ft) of timber is produced annually by state forests, which are under the authority of the Pakistan Forest Institute. During 1990-2000, the annual average rate of deforestation was 1.5 per cent. In its 1999-2004 five-year plan, the government plans to implement 151 reforestation projects, and a cost of Rs1.6 billion. The total timber cut in 2000 was 20,848,000 cu m (735.9 million cu ft), with 91 per cent consumed as fuel wood. Since forest resources are limited, Pakistan must import wood and wood products in increasing volumes to satisfy rising demand. In 2000, forest product imports totaled at $137 million.

The wood consumption in Pakistan was 33,018 thousand cubic meters in 1998. Total wood produced was only 350 thousand cubic meters. This resource scarcity puts a burden on the foreign exchequer. In 1998-2000, Pakistan imported Rs8499.3 million worth of wood and wood products. Its total exports of wood and wood products stood at mere Rs381.4 million.

ANNUAL PRODUCTION, 1996-1998

PARAMETER PAKISTAN ASIA WORLD
Total Production (000m3) 31,528 1,111,958 3,261,621
Fuel Wood Production (000m3) 29,312 863,316 1,739,504
Industrial Round Wood Production (000m+) 2,217 268,470 1,522,116
Paper (thousand metric tons) 619 88,859 313,206

THREATS: The FAO estimates that every year 130,000 km2 of the world's forests are lost due to deforestation. Conversion to agricultural land, unsustainable harvesting of timber, unsound land management practices, and creation of human settlements are the most common reasons for this loss of forested areas. According to the World Bank, deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. FAO data estimates that the world's forests and forest soil store more than one trillion tons of carbon - twice the amount found in the atmosphere. The World Bank estimates that forests provide habitats to about two-thirds of all species on earth, and that deforestation of closed tropical rainforests could account for biodiversity loss of as many as 100 species a day. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Global Partnership on Forest Landscape Restoration, "Across the globe lie more than a billion hectares of lost and degraded forest land that could be restored".

DEFORESTATION: Pakistan has faced significantly high rates of deforestation in the past. The main reasons of deforestation are urbanization, farming, overgrazing, global warming, and tourism development. This has led to severe consequences desertification, flooding and endangering of wildlife. According to one estimate WRI and IIED (1988), the forest area of Pakistan decreased from 141530 square km in 1880 to 67310 in 1980; a decrease of 52 percent in one hundred years. During the 1970's, the study estimates an annual decrease of 1.5 percent per year. Estimates of contemporary deforestation are varied. In 1992, some researchers reported that some 7000-9000 ha of forests were lost each year. Some put this estimate at 10,000 ha annually. Since these reports came out in early nineties, these estimates could not be held true for the nineties. Pakistan experienced deforestation at a rate of 1.1 percent (55000 ha) annually. This presents a rather grim picture for the future prospects of the sector.

The Federal Bureau of Statistics provisionally valued this sector at Rs25,637 million in 2005 thus registering over three per cent decline of forests in Pakistan since 2000. As a consequence to deforestation and changing land use patterns, the most critically affected ecosystems of Pakistan are:

* Juniper forests of northern Balochistan have been heavily harvested for timber and fuel wood.

* Indus River riparian zone is the other such area where ecological changes have drastically affected the 'Riverian Forests'. Large tracts have been cleared for agriculture.

* The Himalayan temperate forests are also under severe pressure from logging for timber and firewood and making clearings for agriculture and the increasing population pressure.

BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION AND PROTECTED AREAS: Pakistan has some 1027 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 3.5 per cent are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 5.5 per cent are threatened. Pakistan is home to at least 4950 species of vascular plants, of which 7.5 per cent are endemic. Four per cent of Pakistan is protected under IUCN categories I-V. The protected areas serve the purpose of conserving the forests and wildlife of Pakistan. National Conservation Strategy of 1993 was a major landmark of start of conservation of natural resources and wildlife in Pakistan. Resource-managed manmade forests like Changa Manga, Kamalia plantation and Chichawatni plantation have also been planted to serve purpose and conserve forests. Through conservation, a large region of Thal desert has been afforested.

Natural protected forests are:

* Birir Valley Coniferous Forest in Chitral District (also called 'Deodar Chilghoza Oak Forest')
* Jhangar Scrub Forest in Chakwal District
* Sulaiman Coniferous Forest in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (also called 'Sulaiman Chilgoza Pine Forest')
* Ziarat Juniper Forest in Ziarat District

Artificial resource managed forests are:

* Changa Manga Forest in Lahore District
* Chichawatni Plantation in Sahiwal District