LAHORE: Pakistan’s poor international ranking in under forest area is causing massive economic and environmental damage to the country therefore this should be taken very seriously. Government would have to make forest management system effective as importance of forests cannot be underestimated.
In a statement, the LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid and Vice President Zeshan Khalil said that Pakistan ranked 79 with around 1% area under forest while Russia andIndia stand first and 10th position respectively with over 49% and 23%.
They said that deforestation in Pakistan seems small but actually is a big issue as it not only leaving adverse impact on the environment but is also hitting the economy hard. Government, private sector and all segments of society should join hands to tackle the issue of shrinking forests in Pakistan.
They said that forests are not only safeguarding biodiversity and acting as a shield against climate changes but are also equally important for the economic safety of the country. They said that wood production, processing and the pulp & paper industries accounts over one percent of the global gross domestic product.
The LCCI office-bearers said that forests also resist against devastating floods besides being a major source of fresh water, medicine, shelter and employment for the people. They said that forestation is one of the most neglected areas and there is a dire need to make joint efforts to protect and enhance forests through public-private partnership.
“We have to recognize that forestry is an integral feature of sustainable economic development. It should be the focus policy corridors for generating new economic opportunities”, the LCCI office-bearers said adding that by developing forestry as a commercially viable sector, the country can make the agriculture sector stable and valuable for economy.
They said that considering the available facts and figures, the potential for new investment in forestry is very much significant. Currently, local industry such as paper and furniture is experiencing serious supply-shocks which are not only impeding their further growth and but also slashing their international competitiveness.
They said that government should make long-term arrangements for attracting large investment and also provide incentives for advanced forest management technologies. They said that all city-district governments should earmark certain percentage of land in their areas for forestation.
The LCCI office-bearers said that timely policy-response, investment and coordinated efforts from the key stakeholders are required to improve the situation. They proposed that Ministry of Environment should adopt a comprehensive forest development strategy to address the production and conservation needs in close consultation with the private sector and scientific community.