FAO reports on forestry outlook call stakeholder attention towards continuous degradation

ISLAMABAD, Aug 2 (APP):United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Thursday launched two reports on forestry outlook of Pakistan and Asia-Pacific region, suggesting appropriate attention of all stakeholders to overcome decreasing green cover caused by climate change.

The reports underlined the need for engaging youth for massive afforestation and ecological conservations especially in mountainous regions.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam formally launched the World Bank funded reports, titled “Forest Futures-Sustainable pathways for forests, landscapes and people in the Asia-Pacific region” and “Forestry Sector Review Pakistan- 2019” here at a ceremony.

Addressing participants of the launching ceremony, he said the FAO report about Pakistan had reflected that Pakistan’s initiatives witnessed five percent increase in overall forest cover of the country, while six percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said the recommendations and way forward contained in these reports had already been incorporated in the plans prepared for 10 Billion Tree Tsunami (10BTT).

“The government is very firm and believes in the way forward to plant as many trees as it can across the country. We have an opportunity in the form of 45 per cent rangeland lying vacant to develop forests. However, all seven plans are ready for 10BTT plantation taking all provinces on board,” he informed.

Unfortunately, he said, there had been conflicting number of existing forests in past, but these reports would help provide ‘strong statistics’ in that regard.

Amin said “We are going to energize our youth for its active participation in the 10BTT so that a sense of ownership could be developed among public for the mega plantation.”

The adviser said there was a strong political commitment as Prime Minister Imran Khan and the federal cabinet had approved funding for 10BTT despite harsh economic conditions. “We have sufficient funding for this year whereas and we will also capitalize global and donor funding available in this regard,” he added.

“The successful Billion Tree Tsunami project in KP has managed to get global acclaim and nomination as champion project to be presented in the United Nations Secretary General Summit in September. We are also going to develop Ecosystem Restoration Fund with partners online,” Amin Aslam said.

FAO Representative Mina Dowlatchahi said the organization was looking back in depth to study forests of Pakistan and exact knowledge of the position of forestry in the Asia-Pacific region.

She said there was a big risk in term of biodiversity loss, watershed management and other ecological issues owing to decreasing forest cover in the region.

“Planted forests in mountains are not compatible in balancing the loss of natural forests. However, during 1990-2015 the forest degradation took place rapidly. Pakistan has low forest per person capita of 0.01 hectares (ha) against 0.54 ha per person globally,” she added.

She termed the continuous decline in biodiversity and resilience in natural forests in the Asia-Pacific region ‘disturbing,” stressing the need for its reversal.

“About 300 forestry students – all youngsters from more than 30 countries – had been interviewed who claimed that they can lead healthy steps for sustainable forests for which serious steps should be taken by all stakeholders,” Dowlatchahi said.

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