A top climate change ministry has stressed the need for increasing forest cover through participatory approach to tackle climate change impacts on vulnerable communities.
“Increasing area under forest cover is one effective way to reduce the country’s vulnerability to climate change-induced catastrophes, particularly floods, soil erosion and landslides from heavy rains, droughts, desertification, storm surges and sea intrusion or sea-level rise,” Federal Climate Change Secretary Arif Ahmed Khan said.
While speaking to The Express Tribune after chairing a meeting of officials of the provincial forest and wildlife departments at the climate change ministry recently, he said there was a need to jointly work with provincial forest and wildlife departments and other relevant stakeholders to increase forest cover.
The meeting took stock of the current state of the forests and wildlife, particularly the endangered species, risks to their sustainability and possible remedial measures for their protection and conservation.
Inspector-General of Forests at the ministry, Syed Mahmood Nasir also briefed the meeting on measures taken for the reclamation and development of forest areas across the country in the light of instructions given by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
There is a dire need for substantial forest cover to mitigate its ever-worsening vulnerability to protect people and their livelihoods from unfolding risks in shape of more frequent incidents of floods, heavy rains, droughts, landslides, sea intrusion, storm surges and cyclones, Khan said.
“Inter-provincial cooperation and coordination are inevitable for protecting the existing forests and bringing new area under trees as well as protecting the wildlife and controlling its illegal hunting or poaching,” he said adding that no single department or ministry could be able to expand area under forests in the country and everyone had to work in tandem.
“Partnerships and participatory approaches can operate at a range of levels, from national to local, and include authorities, forest extension agencies, forest-dependent communities, non-governmental organisations, private-sector entities, research and academic bodies, and forest managers.
“Partnerships and participatory approaches are viewed as essential for successful and durable management responses to climate change impacts,” he argued.
“Climate change also poses enormous challenges for forests, people and their livelihoods. But adaptation and mitigation strategies for coping with the challenges are two vital responses to the climate change risks that need to be hammered out on war-footing,” Khan stressed.
The strategies could comprise reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation; and increasing the role of forests as carbon sinks, decreasing the vulnerability of forests and forest-dependent communities to climate change impacts through interventions, he elaborated.
“Deploying sustainable forest management techniques can lessen the climate risks and generate opportunities such as employment in forest restoration, conservation, wood production and wood-based manufacturing and payments for forest-related services.”
It often requires provinces to bring changes in their respective forest policies, strategies and practices, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2015.