FAISALABAD: South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) will play an instrumental role in the overall development of commercial forestry on modern scientific lines and purely on marketable basis.
This was disclosed by SPFC Chief Executive Officer Tahir Rasheed while addressing a function at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI).
He said that at least 50 public sector companies are working in Punjab including newly created SPFC. Another two forest companies have also been proposed for central and north Punjab, which would work for the development of commercial forestry to support wood, sports goods and furniture industries on a sustained basis, said Rasheed.
Underlining the benefits of commercial forestry, he said that it will play a major role in controlling environmental pollution in addition to reorganising wood industry and saving foreign exchange.
“SPFC is engaged in the preparation of feasibilities of different business plans,” said Rasheed, expressing hope that the work will be completed within the next three weeks. This will pave the way for transparent leasing of land initially for 15 years, which will be extendable for another 15 years on the same terms, he added.
He said that in America the private sector has developed forests on 870 million hectares of land with an investment of $480 billion. Out of it, $20 billion has been invested by different institutions due to the profitability of this sector.
Talking about the plans of SPFC, Rasheed said that after the completion of TORs, lease agreements will be inked in the month of May. He further said that a period of 7 to 8 months will be given for land levelling and provision of water.
“Currently three different business plans are under consideration. These will be on sharing basis, lease basis and a mixed blend of these two types. Investors will be allowed to cultivate 11 different species of trees, however no invasive varieties will be allowed for the purpose of cultivation.”
The SPFC CEO clarified that this allocated land will not be allowed to be used for any other purpose including agriculture; however the lessee could grow bamboo on it.
Responding to a question, he said that a proposal is under consideration to give extra incentives to the investors who have business plans to grow, sell or export Moringa. This plant has unique medicinal value as its leaves, roots and fruits, all are used in the preparation of high value medicines.
He said that canal water will be supplied where it will be possible, however in other case the lessee will have to make its own arrangements for the irrigation of forests.
Also speaking on the occasion, FCCI President Muhammad Saeed Sheikh highlighted the importance of commercial forestry for wood, furniture and sports goods industries and said that SPFC will play a major role in providing raw material to these vital segments of national economy.
He said that the government should offer maximum facilities to investors as government will get additional benefits in the form of positive impact on environment.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 20th, 2017.