Pakistan promoting private investment into forests

Pakistan is to create a Forestry Board in which all of its four provinces will be given representation on matters relating to its natural habitats and wetlands as one of the country’s chief ministers outlined plans to make investment in and sustainable management of the country’s forests a leading priority.

According to Pakistan Point News, Syed Murad Ali Shah, chief minister for Sindh province, outlined plans this week during a meeting with Zahid Hamid, Pakistan’s climate change minister, to increase Pakistan’s commercial and industrial forestry by promoting private investment to expand the country’s forests.

According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, Pakistan is relatively forest-poor, with 4.2 million hectares of forest and planted trees, about 4.8 per cent of its total land area. It has 0.05 hectares of forest per capita; the world average is 1.0 hectares.

85 per cent of Pakistan’s forest area is owned by the government with the rest in private hands. Mr Shah’s plans seek to increase Pakistan’s forest cover.

The minister said that the expansion, protection and sustainable use of forests, protected areas, natural habitats and watersheds for restoring ecological functions in line with international agreements is one of the top priorities of his government.

Pakistan is home to some of the world’s most unique forests including the Junipur, Deodar, Oak and Chilghoza forests.

Mr Shah said there were many benefits from forest ecosystems including boosting the physical and mental health of human beings, regulating water, controlling soil erosion and controlling infectious disease.

“We are planning to provide incentives for promoting farm forestry, urban forestry, commercial and industrial forestry by promoting private investments for increasing forests,” he was quoted as saying.

The Pakistan government is also attempting to grow the country’s forest cover through its Green Pakistan Programme, formally launched at the start of the year. The ambitious scheme aims to plant 100 million trees across the country over the next five years.

The scheme, based on China’s Great Green Wall Programme, is designed to protect and manage wildlife and reclaim and develop forest areas. Pakistan’s federal government is paying for 50 per cent of the project, with each province contributing 50 per cent in matching grants.

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