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One can read at various news messages (ONLINE International News NetworkPakistan Today) about the signing of a MoU between the Government of Pakistan and UK based Company Merlins Wood.

All of you might have read and heard about the first and most prominent rule for any REDD+ agreements: they should be based on FREE, PRIOR & INFORMED CONSENT.

Seems there went something wrong in Pakistan as we have been contacted by some forest owner representatives who complained on the referring REDD+ agreement. Please find here their statement:


Shafiq Ur Rehman Yusufzai, Development Worker                                                                                     Dated: 26-03-2012

If we look back at the history, one can safely say that over the past 50 years, about half the Pakistan’s original forest cover has been lost, the most significant cause for that being humans beings' unsystematic use of its resources, imposed forest management systems, experiments were made and root cause of exploitation of the small forest owners was never addressed. In an area where local pollution is struggling for their survival, where 85% living under poverty line, where the literacy rate is below 40% for men and below 10% of females, how we are expecting from them that they will “harvest their legal, authorized timber and will subsequently transport it to the timber market which is hundred miles away from his area for an open auction??, being knowing the root causes of the failures of all previous implemented systems, the forest department unfortunately not learned from its previous mistakes, gapes, we always talked about lesson learnt and its replication but one cannot see it in the field even with the help of a micro scope. Being son of the soil, a small forest owner and a so called development practitioner, strongly feels that the sole reason behind the failure of all tested systems was the lack of ownership on both sides of the river, the parent department (forest department) and the forest owners, and number two was the non availability, support of financial resources for the harvesting of timber (operational expenses), this provided a strong foundation for the a third party, the timber mafia which exploited this gray area to the best of their capabilities and the small forest owners beard the most besides the government exchequers.

The Objective of establishing forest department was “to conserve and improve the existing forests, increase the productivity of the forests, shrub- and range-lands to enhance revenue for the State and private owners encourage public and private investment in forestry, conserve wildlife and bio-diversity natural recreation; and to improve the legal frame-work for promoting forestry in the province, however, If we look at the history for forest management systems since 1871 till 2012, all the tested systems ( Contractors, Forest development corporation, Forest Cooperative societies, and Joint Forest Management Committee’s) badly failed in the protection of forests rather it promoted the illegal cutting of green gold throughout Khyber Pakhtun Khwa.

Since 1992, after heavy floods which caused huge losses to both public and private property, the then federal government imposed ban on the greens harvesting and it was co related to floods although at that official reports termed it that the volume of continues rains was beyond the absorption capacity of the soil, without wasting time on this controversial topic would like put it on record that, in the history of our country, the damaged which caused to the green gold due to illegal cutting of trees across the country was never ever before and just look at the growth of the construction industry in Pakistan since 1992, during the last two decades its pace is doubled and from where we are meeting the timber consumption/requirements of the construction industry?. It’s a big question before the environmental scientists and organizations which are working on environment. The only loss which we beard since 1992 was the maximum exploitation by timber mafia of the small forest owners.

When we take away the forest, it is not just the trees that go. The entire ecosystem begins to fall apart, with dire consequences for all of us.

Just for the convenience of the readers would like to write a few Para’s forest departments, its mandate, specific tasks assigned or what was expected from them. Since establishment of Forest Department in 1871, a series of policy guidelines were issued during different periods for better management and development of the Forest resources and a number of Developmental project were launched to implement these policy guidelines. However, the result could not be achieved to the desired level. Recognizing the significance of forests at the national level, a country vide Forestry Sector Master Plan was prepared in 1991 by the Federal Government for the improved management of the country's forest resources. To implement the recommendations of this Master Plan, Forestry Sector Project was launched in 1996 in NWFP with the financial assistance of Asian Development Bank. The recommendations of this project were translated into NWFP Forest Policy approved in 1990. Major guiding principles of this policy were;

  • Integrated resource management whereby the different land use types (forests, watershed areas, range lands, bio-diversity areas; etc.) and vegetation and other resource type (trees, shrubs, grasses, wild animals and fisheries) will be managed in an integrated way as part of the overall ecological system.
  • Participation of the local communities and other stakeholders in the plam1ing, implementation, monitoring, and evolution of natural resource management activities

Reportedly in response to these Policy Directives, the NWFP Government introduced a series of reforms in the Department which include Institutional as well as structural reforms. Under Institutional reforms following measures were taken

I. Promulgated new Provincial Forest Ordinance; where in all the existing different sets of Acts were integrated in a new Forest ordinance titled "Forest ordinance 2002".

II. Updated the existing forest Rules and framed new Rules under the Provision of the Ordinance.

III. Established Forestry Round Table for effective participation of Forestry Stakeholders in the Planning process.

IV. Established Forestry Development Fund to provide sustainable financial support to the Department for its regeneration programs

V. To combat against illegal Forest Cutting, protective staff of the Forest Department was declared as Forest force.

Under structural reforms, the government of Khyber Pakhtun Khwa introduced, Matrix Management system was introduced to introduce interconnected coordinated performance of managerial and specialized staff. Specialized units were created in important areas, such as;

I. Institutional & Human Resource Development Directorate (I&HRD).

II. Community development, Extension & Gender Development Directorate (CDEGAD).

III. Research & Development Directorate (R&D).

IV. Planning & Monitoring Directorate (P&M).

V. Non Timber Forest Product Directorate (NTFP).

The renewable natural resources of NWFP are a unique bounty of Allah. They meet the essential subsistence needs of the local communities and conserve soil and water, the policy of the Govt. of NWFP was to protect, sustainably manage and develop its forests in recognition of their ecological significance and economic value.

The forest department claims the following achievements.

  1. Consolidated and Revised Forest Acts into Forest Ordinance 2002 and Revised 11 different Forest Rules.
  2. Introduction of Participatory approaches- Joint Forest Management System.
  3. Re-organized the Forest Department- Created Specialized Directorates.
  4. Creation of Forest Development Fund (FDF).
  5. Improved Planning Methods: introduced use of GIS and Multi Stage Planning.
  6. (Strategic, Operational, Village Dev/JFMC Plans)
  7. Adopted the concept of Integrated Forest Management.
  8. Established Forestry Round Table.
  9. Declared Forest Department Protective staff as Forest Force.
  10. Generated revenue about Rs. 500 million and Royalty of around Rs. 1 billion to the local communities per annum.
  11. In-spite of logging ban created about 2 million people’s days of employment per annum.
  12. Supplied about 2 million CFt timbers to market annually.

Way forward ? Can the government lease out private property without the consent of the owners?

After the 18th amendment, the provincial governments are wholly solely responsible for the management of forests, before the 18th amendment, environment ministry was amongst the concurrent list which is no more there. We have not seen what else powers, the federal government delegated to the provinces. Total area of KPK as per land use statistics 1992 is 10.1739 million hectares out of which 1.684 million hectares is under forest/trees (17%), range land is 4.893 million hectares (48%), agriculture land is only 1.546 million hectares (15%) and other is 2.05 million hectares (19%) of the total area.

Recently the Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Ameer Haider Khan Hoti has approved the leasing out of land for project for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation of forests (REDD) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect has been signed between the Merlin’s Wood, a UK-based private investor and Environment Department, Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This project will be implemented over an area of about 3 lac hectares forests and range lands in the Districts of Batagram, Mansehra, Tor Ghar and Swat to be lease out for a period of 40 years.

When we look at the objectives of the establishment of forest department, its core objectives and the claims they made and when we tries to co relate all the above mentioned documented facts and figures on one side and the recent MOU which the CM KPK signed on the recommendation of forest department with Merlin is more than enough rather it’s a confessional MOU stating that the parent department is badly failed in managing the department, that’s why they started illegal and completely immoral business which is not against the laws of the country but also against the civil and property rights of the civilians. To become a CM or Minister or secretary forest does not allow you to give on lease the private property of thousands of small forest owners without their consultation.

  • Participation of the local communities and other stakeholders in the plam1ing, implementation, monitoring, and evolution of natural resource management activities

The investors, Merlin Woods desired to take an area on lease of two hundreds thousands hectares, which is equivalent to 4, 94,000 acres 3952000 acres kanals for a period of 40 years in Battagram, and Mansehra to conserve, develop and sustainably manage for the social, economic as well managing existing forests, enhancing carbon stock through improving density of degraded forest tress on waste land and agriculture land through farm forestry.

Being son of the soil, ex chairman Allai Forest Management Council, an umbrella organization of the joint forest management committees and a so called development worker would like to share some statistics regarding our district which will clear our stance on this issue, you might know the fact that, in Hazara Division in Battagram district most of the area is under forest and only in Allai Valley 37% of the total area is under green gold.

Total area under forest only in district Battagram is 77040 acres (31190 hectares), 616320 kanals in total with the following bifurcation.

Guzara Forest (Private property)                 66 485 acres (86.29%)

Resumed land, reserved (disputed)             5883 acres (7.6%)

Non Merged area of Black Mountains            4472 acres (6%)

The above mentioned facts and figures are self explanatory and if someone assume that these private forests belongs to a few local influential is absolutely not true and this unilateral and illegal decision without the consent of thousands of small forest owners is against the law and will ultimately lead to an un control unrest if not clarified at this early stage of the negotiation. Reportedly the government has the consent of some of the local influential’s who don’t have a single acre of forest in the revenue record and they are once again replicating the history of their forefather.

May we ask from the Merlin Woods and that from the provincial government that 1- under what authority they signed this MOU on behalf of Guzara forest owners without their consultation at the grass root level?

2- Why Abbottabad was not included where the entire forest belongs to the government?

3- Does it com community participation?

4- Why this decision on the recommendation of those who don’t believes in “the ownership of natural resources?

If both the Merlin Woods and provincial government are keen in the protection of forest and integrated development in this region then they should

  1. Conduct a base line survey I whole of the district with the help of an independent agency, to find out the willingness of all the forest owners whether they want to lease out their property for a period of 40 years or not?, it can be through broad based community meetings preferably should be on individual basis.
  2. To find out the root causes of the failures of the previous systems and recommendations from the owners how to improve and go about it.
  3. The government can start this from the public property initially and in case of success, can easily be replicated on guzara lands.
  4. To find out the potential integrated economic opportunity in case the guzara owners agrees to lease their property
  5. What will be the role of the forest department?, in their presence no sustainable development is possible as they are supporting the timber mafia and some of them are very deep rooted inside the system.
  6. How can we stop the involvement and miss use of powers both of the civil plus government functionaries in the forest department affairs. 
  7. Who will be the next custodian of our private property, the government or the Merlin Woods??

Editors Note: ForestIndustries.EU is not able to check the truthfulness of the statements published above. But we believe in the integrity of the author of these lines and have therefore decided to publish this text. Please contact us in any case of raising doubts on the truthfulness of this text.

Read further here: Timber Mafia and ‘Protector’s” Continues to Deplete Forest Cover Through out KPK!!


Pakistan has signed a MoU with UK based company on REDD+


Blog | by Dr. Radut