Pakistan opens Forest Policy 2015 draft for public review, comments
Islamabad, Pakistan: The Ministry of Climate Change Government of Pakistan has announced Forest Policy 2015 for ‘Public Review and Comments,’ said a ministry official on Friday.
In view of Pakistan’s high vulnerability to adverse impacts of climate change, in particular to extreme events, mitigation and adaptation measures are the focus of this Policy, the ministry official, Miss Huma said.
Pakistan, as a party to international agreements and conventions, has various commitments and obligations related to forests which requires national-level actions and the cooperation of all segments of the society and federating units, she informed. It was therefore imperative for the federal government to promulgate an umbrella forest policy which aims at bolstering provincial forest policies in view of the renewed mandate of Federal Government and Rules of Business of Ministry of Climate Change (as amended in 2012), she added.
Following are important important points on which the draft is based:
Under the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (1973), the subject of Forestry falls in the provincial domain and respective provincial governments. Government of Azad Jammu and Kashmir protect and manage forests in their jurisdiction. IN FATA, Federal Government is responsible for Forestry sector through the FATA Secretariat, whereas in Gilgit-Baltistan Forestry is dealt by GilgitBaltistan Council with a mandate given by Gilgit, Baltistan (Empowerment and Self-Governance) Order, 2009. The functions of Federal Government pertaining to Forestry as per Federal Legislative List (Part-II) are limited to National planning and economic coordination, Inter-provincial matters and coordination and matters incidental or ancillary thereof. The Part-I of Federal Legislative List also entitles Federal Government to regulate import and export of wood and forest products across custom frontiers, inter-provincial trade and commerce, trade and commerce with foreign countries. Additionally, Federal Government shall perform functions of implementing international conventions and agreements related to forests. Forestry governance in the Indo Pak sub-continent has a long history since the late 19th century with the appointment of the first Inspector General Forests in 1896. Historically, Forestry remained a provincial subject even after independence of Pakistan.
In the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, Forestry is purely a provincial subject and not impacted by the eighteenth amendments in the Constitution (2010). The roles and responsibilities of Federal Government are embedded in the following provincial statutes: a) Section 41-A of the Provincial Forest Acts of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan empowers Federal Government to define rules for movement of timber across custom Frontiers. b) NWFP Forest Ordinance 2002 c) Gilgit Private Forests Regulations 1970 and Forest Rules under Gilgit Private Forests Regulations 1975 d) Clause 3.15 of West Pakistan Forest Manual Volume-II e) Gilgit-Baltistan Judicial Council’s decision dated 6 April 2011 also clearly provides Federal Government role in Forestry. Carbon stored in forests has emerged as a new commodity under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to which Pakistan is also a Party.
REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation & Forest Degradation) under the Convention has to be dealt at the national level. Therefore, this Policy is also the need of the hour to attract the benefits related to forests under the UNFCCC and other financial mechanisms including Green Climate Fund. Pakistan is one of the low forest cover countries with only 5% of land area under forests and tree cover. Provincial governments, within their jurisdiction make efforts for protection and development of forests. However the federal support to federating units for meeting international obligations and filling their financial gaps is widely acknowledged.
Federal Government had taken steps in the past to supplement federating units in form of technical and financial support, however without a national forest policy. In view of Pakistan’s high vulnerability to adverse impacts of climate change, in particular to extreme events, mitigation and adaptation measures are the focus of this Policy.
Tremendous role of Forestry in climate change mitigation has been overwhelmingly recognized at international level. In the 21st century, scope of Forestry has been expanded tremendously because it offers the most effective solution to the global issue of climate change, loss of biodiversity, desertification together with air and water pollution. Pakistan, as a party to international agreements and conventions, has various commitments and obligations related to forests which require national-level actions and the cooperation of all federating units. It is therefore imperative for the Federal Government to promulgate an umbrella forest policy which aims at bolstering provincial forest policies in view of the renewed mandate of Federal Government and Rules of Business of Ministry of Climate Change (as amended in 2012).