Pakistan loses 27,000 hectares of forest per year

PESHAWAR: Due to high population growth and climate change vulnerabilities, Pakistan is losing about 27,000 hectares of forest per year, mainly in Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakthunkhwa, which has a negative effect on the sequestration process of the carbon, resulting in an increase in temperature.

According to the National Forest Policy 2015, the destruction of forests, mainly on community and private lands in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan due to rapid population growth and poverty, has increased the risk of floods and melting glaciers in due to sensitivity to climate change, in addition to having negative effects on carbon. sequestration.

“Carbon sequestration is very important for humans, animals and even aquatic resources as it helps to keep our environment clean and to control temperature,” said Dr Muhammad Mumtaz Malik, former chief wildlife curator, during an interview with APP.

He said it was the process of capturing, securing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and making our planet worth living on.

In the event that the carbon sequestration process is affected, temperatures will rise, the risk of flooding will increase due to the rapid melting of glaciers, and cases of heatstroke will increase dramatically.

“Trees purify the environment after absorbing carbon and producing oxygen,” he said, adding that international companies were making payments in the form of carbon credits to developing countries because of additional releases of carbon. fossils and fuels in addition to gas emissions.

KP and Gilgit Balistan are endowed with around 3,000 lakes of which 33 were the most vulnerable due to climate change.

He said the risks of Glacial Lake Outbursts (GOLFs) in Chitral, Swat and Gilgit Baltistan have increased due to rapid melting of glaciers in northern Khyber Pakthunkhwa valleys due to deforestation.

“Developed countries earn millions of dollars through industrialization and economic projects and give poor countries little financial aid in the form of carbon credits that needed to be improved,” he said.

Abid Majeed, Secretary of Forests, Department of Environment and Wildlife, KP revealed that approximately KP is endowed with ecological diversity and forest resources as 45% of the country’s forest cover is located here .

Highlighting the potential carbon stocks of the KP, the Secretary said that 51% of the country’s forest carbon stocks were present in the KP.

In Pakistan, he said most carbon-dense forests were temperate forests. The KP contains about 170 tons of carbon per hectare.

“Avoiding the deforestation of one hectare means a reduction in emissions of 367 tonnes of carbon dioxide.”

Through natural forests and massive plantations over large areas carried out as part of a billion tree project with an annual carbon sequestration potential of 11.20 million tonnes and storage of 194.31 million tonnes of which 67.60 million tonnes in Hazara department, 73.25 million tonnes in Malakand department, 3.87 million tonnes in the southern belt and 49.60 million tonnes of carbon in the merged tribal districts .

The Secretary said that historically there have been emissions of four million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year from deforestation and degradation before 2012, which have been reduced by up to 50%, resulting in a reduction in emissions of two million tonnes per year.

He said protected areas have increased from 10% to more than 15.6%, which has positive effects in reducing emissions, adding that through forest conservation and improved forest management , natural forests sequester around eight million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

He said reforestation projects have been implemented like BTAP and 10 BTTAPs which will result in the carbon sequestration of five million tons of carbon dioxide.

He said the forest department had conducted a forest carbon stock assessment in all forest regions and developed carbon tables for 15 major tree species.

Apart from setting up a satellite land monitoring system in collaboration with SUPARCO for continuous monitoring of forest cover changes, he said the Forestry Department has been tasked to create a gateway for carbon offset buyers. and for domestic and international investors to channel finance into carbon sequestration projects.

He said the department was increasing project registration on the voluntary carbon market with a focus on ecosystem restoration.

In addition to exploring alternative sources of sustainable energy and also exploring non-timber forest products (NTFPs), he said the department is recording other sources of renewable energy carbon credits for sustainable income.

Highlighting the need to map the carbon potential of the KP, he highlighted the need to conduct a survey to identify potential sources of climate finance generation, including existing renewable energy sites, existing forestry and potential reforestation sites. .

The senior official said there is a need to develop a carbon offset development framework and conduct preliminary carbon sequestration assessments to confirm the viability of each site to generate carbon offsets.

Liaison with the verified carbon standard for the accreditation of offsets based on the results of the study and the development of a master plan for the exploitation of carbon finance must be a priority.

Abid Majeed said the government has encouraged the private sector and investors to bring in finance from the domestic and international market as part of generating carbon offsets for the benefit of the masses.

Teresa H. Sadler