Speakers demand revision of forest laws
Islamabad—Speakers on a seminar demanded revision of forest laws addressing landownership and judicious distribution of royalty in forest communities. Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here organized, “A Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Forest Management”. Prof. Dr. Babar Shahbaz University of Agriculture Faisalabad, said provision of livelihood opportunities, alternate energy sources and removal of ban on harvesting of trees necessary for sustainable forest management.
Dr. Shahbaz expressed that sustainable forest governance is only possible if it is rooted from the collective local action. He expressed that there is no easy way to overcome the multidimensional problems involved in forest management as managing natural resource conflict is an integral part of natural resource governance. He urged that a mediated policy dialogue using a neutral facilitator is a good way to bring the actors in a natural resource conflict together. Dialogue mediated by neutral facilitators helps build and strengthen trust, enhance communication, promote engagement, and open attitudes, he added.
PAMS Coordinator Talimand Khan shared SDPI’s findings and recommendation based upon district forest assembly and people roundtables held in Hazara and Malakand divisions of KPK, with local stakeholders regarding forest governance issues. He criticized existing forest management policy that puts responsibility to protect forest on communities without imparting any authority to them. He stressed upon integrated land use planning and coordination among stakeholders for sustainable forest management and put forth many recommendations such as review of Joint Forest Management Committees’ system (JFMCs), transparent disbursement of royalty, implementation of forests reform agenda, resolution of ownership issues, shift to fruit orchards in wastelands, innovative approaches to correspond to climate change and incentives reforestation compatible with climate change.
Senior Research Associate, Climate Change Study Centre, SDPI, Shakeel Ahmad Ramay said Pakistan is vulnerable to various negative implications of climate change such as droughts, rise in sea level, melting of glaciers and changing weather patterns. He said that experts have predicted that these affects would adversely affect agricultural production and may decrease it upto 30% in next 20 years. He said this depleting water resources and productivity scenario in contrast with enormous increase in population presents a very gloomy picture. He cited recent SDPI study which shows 48.7% food insecurity in Pakistan and urged upon taking immediate measures to cope with situation.—APP