Chitral Heritage and Environment Protection Society (CHEPS) voiced concern over rapid deforestation and the resulting environmental degradation in Chitral valley at an event on Wednesday.
Environmental activists at a seminar, “The ecological imbalance due to unchecked deforestation in Chitral and its impact on our environment,” said the timber mafia was involved in illegal logging in connivance with the government and forest department officials.
They also criticised forest department officials for ignoring the standard procedure of marking trees to be felled.
CHEPS Chairman Rehmat Ali Jafar said 30 percent of the area in Chitral was covered by forests in 1930, which according to an International union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report has been reduced to four per cent. However, he added that the total forest area was even lower.
The current procedure of selecting trees, embossing numbers on them and felling them needs to be redesigned according to international standards, Jafar said. “The youth can play a major role in creating awareness on the importance of conserving the environment on social media,” he stated.
Jafar said smugglers make a road from logs to transport trees downstream from mountainous terraces in Patru, while no action is taken against them.
An environmental activist said that the people of Chitral have proven that they can protect the environment but they need the support of elected representatives and concerned government officials.
At the seminar, a documentary filmed in Tingar Gol in Drosh tehsil, south of the district, focused on how the timber mafia smuggled trees.
Later, the participants of the seminar also took part in an “Environmental Peace Walk” held at Archives Library Hall.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2013.
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