ISLAMABAD: Deforestation and burning of forests is causing 25 to 30 per cent greenhouse gases emissions each year.
“Most people assume that global warming is caused by burning of oil, gas, and coal, however around 25 to30 per cent of the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere each year or roughly 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide - is caused by deforestation, mainly due to cutting and burning of forests,” said an official of the Ministry of Climate Change.
He said the same amount of climate-altering carbon dioxide gases released from fossil fuel burning through any source can be removed from the atmosphere to stabilise the climate change by halting deforestation.
Government looks for private investments in forests
Quoting studies of the UN’s Food and Agriculture (FAO), he said that trees reduce 50 per cent carbon dioxide emission. But when they are chopped down or burned, the carbon dioxide they store makes its way back into the air. Besides, around 13 million hectares of forests worldwide are lost annually, almost entirely in the tropics, most of it occurs in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.
He said, that an ambitious World Bank-funded $3.8 million REDD+ programme has already been launched in the country that will help forest owners to access money for forest protection and controlling their shrinkage.
He said that lack of access to energy for cooking and heating in households, illegal tree cutting, population growth and associated wood demand surge, changes in land cover for non-forestry uses, land erosion and degradation are among major causes of deforestation in the country.
“Controlling deforestation in the country is not possible without increasing access to renewable and alternative energy sources, particularly for cooking and heating in households, reducing occurrence of land erosion and landslides by strengthening forested mountain slopes with vegetation cover and increasing public awareness about positive effects of forests on overall environment, human health and biodiversity”, he added.
Policy on deforestation still a distant dream
To a question he asked provincial and federal representatives of the forest departments to join the climate change ministry’s efforts for implanting national forest policy that aims to halt deforestation and inject new life in the ailing forestry sector.
He said that involvement of local and indigenous forest communities, community-based organisations, and educational institutions is the key to bringing new life into the country’s forestry sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2017.
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