REDD+ strategy to increase carbon stock in KP forests prepared

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has prepared a comprehensive strategy for reducing emission from desertification and forests’ degradation (REDD+) for sustainable conservation of forests, countering negative effects of green houses’ gases and enhancement of carbon stocks in forests of the province.

The first ever strategy on REDD+ program prepared by KP Forests Department has been finalized in the two days provincial workshop organized by Forestry Planning and Monitoring Circle (FP&MC) held at Pakistan Forests Institute (PFI) Peshawar.

Secretary Environment, Forests and Wildlife, Syed Nazar Hussain Shah, Chief Conservator of Forests Malakand, Qazi Mushtaq, Conservator FP&MC, Niaz Ali, Conservator Malakand Circle, Yousaf Khan, Consultant REDD+ Program, Alamgir Gandapur, Director General PFI, Divisional Forest Officers, experts on forestry, climate change and social scientists, forests owners besides other relevant stakeholders attended the workshop.

The Secretary Environment and Forests in his key note address as chief guest highlighted the role of forests communities and stated that most of the KP forests are encumbered with the communal rights, therefore, the strategy has been prepared after through consultation with them.

However, before finalization it is opened for further improvement in light of the suggestions and recommendations of the participants of the workshop and maintained that the strategy and social environmental safeguards are pre-requisite for participation in the REDD+ International program.

The Secretary referred to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under which a comprehensive draft containing rules and regulations, basic conditions and others standards for International REDD+ program had been approved at Warsa Poland in 2013.

Following its adaptation, he said, it was now necessary for the developing countries including Pakistan to prepare a comprehensive REDD+ strategy for participation in the International REDD+ program.

The Secretary hoped since the province has taken a lead in fulfilling this obligatory requirement, therefore, its case as sub-national entity may be submitted to the International REDD+ Program by the Federal Government to take full advantage of it.

Niaz Ali, Conservator FP&MC Peshawar threw light on significance of the program for Pakistan especially KP and maintained that KP Forests Department has all the policies, laws, expertise, manpower skills and abilities required for its successful implementation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

For implementation of REDD+, he said FP&MC has already started a comprehensive project to create awareness among masses by holding workshops, conferences and seminars in almost all the districts of KP besides prepared a comprehensive provincial strategy on REDD+ that was presented for discussion to make it more effective.

He said PFI was working on another project on carbon stock’s estimates in forests whereas work on collection of data of about 1200 plots in different forests have reached into last stage besides completion of preparation of carbon tables of different types of trees for sustainable conservation and effective management of forests and bio-diversity resources in the province.

Alamgir Gandapor, Consultant REDD+ Program informed that social, environmental safeguards and benefits sharing mechanism has identified various level of stakeholders whose consent were obtained after providing detailed information of this program to them.

“The firewood has been identified as the major driver of deforestation followed by constructional timber, illegal cutting and grazing for which alternative have been proposed to safeguard the interest of stakeholders”, he noted.

The REDD+ is a phase wise program, which would be completed in three phases, he said and added that in the first phase, the countries would provide required training to people and fulfill basic conditions while in the second phase it would be launched in an area on experimental basis and its implementation would be started at the country level on the third phase.

Earlier, the experts deliberated on different aspects of the strategy and presented various suggestions and recommendations including establishment of REDD+ committees at village and tehsil level, strict implementation of forests laws, involvement of local communities for protection of forests resources from timber mafia and fire, increasing financial resources for forests research, equipping of the field staff for successful implementation of the existing forests laws.

Media and LG representatives’ support to create awareness among masses about importance of forests, discouraging use of timber for  furniture, strengthening of forests monitoring system, and close coordination among institutions to counter the emissions of hazardous gases, effects of climate change and global warming and creation of jobs opportunities for local communities were also recommended.