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Scientific inventory of state forests ordered.

KARACHI -- Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has directed Forest Department to conduct a scientific inventory of state forests in Sindh to ascertain the area of land under forests, including riverine and irrigated forests.

He took this decision on Thursday while presiding over a meeting of the forest department here at the CM House.

Secretary Forest Abdul Raheem Soomro told the meeting that the first ever inventory of state of forests in Sindh was conducted with the assistance of Asian Bank in 1994. The inventory indicated that 21 percent area or 43,000 hectares of Riverine forests and 17 percent area or 13,000 hectares of irrigated planation were under cover of productive/commercial tree species and the remaining forest area was degraded and occupied by non-commercial woody vegetation.

In 2007 the forest department's in-house study found that the state land covered by forest were 2.5 percent of the total area.

Sindh is spread over 34.84 million acres, of which eight per cent (2,789,875 acres) are designated state forestlands and rangelands.

The chief minister attributed decline in forest cover to multiple factors such as poor governance, weak law enforcement capacity of the fire department, decline in river flow and low priority assigned to forestry sector in financial resources allocation. He said that the other factors include demographic changes, hydrological changes, market forces, lack of alternatives of forest products and land hunger.

He said that forestry and forest management globally have undergone a paradigm shift. Forests are now principally conserved for provision of environmental service such as, climate regulation, soil and water conservation, biodiversity conservation, pollution control and protection against natural disasters, he said and added: "Providing timber, fuelwood and fodder is no longer considered as the key objective of managing forests."

Secretary Forest said that his department had presented a `Sindh Sustainable Forest Management Policy -20 19' in the last cabinet meeting. The cabinet has constituted a committee under Forest Minister Syed Nasir Shah to give recommendations for implementation of the policy.

The main objectives of the proposed forest policy include governance of the forestry, climate change mitigation and ecosystem service, Riverine Forests and Irrigation plantation under which investment in environmental forestry areas would be encouraged. Mangrove forests and Rangelands enhancement, demarcation and re-notification of state forest lands, social forestry- this forestry would be made on private, community and municipal lands.

The chief minister said that the most important objective of the forest policy should be `Forestry Research and Education. He said that scientific research and education in forestry, non-timber forestry produce and wildlife was promoted for pragmatic conservation planning and generating career opportunities for graduating students and researchers.

The chief minister was told in the meeting that the new Forest policy was aimed at raising 100 percent plantable area under forest in a phased-approach to be opted by the local planting partners through a transparent process. During the next 15 years Riverine and Irrigated plantations would be restored by 100 percent.

Under the new policy the assets of forest department such as forest land in reserve forest areas of riverine and irrigated plantation areas would be made available after transparent process to develop forests with local people investment and expertise.

Under the policy advertisement would be published in local newspapers for maximum competition and strict enforcement of policy provision.

The bidding process would be managed at division office level and highest bidder would choose the afforestation plan (one to five year afforestation options with maximum reward for early afforestation option) and plating partner would be paying the land rent/tariff and security deposit.

The chief minister directed the forest department to prepare a plan for conducting scientific inventory of the state forests and get him approval to start the work. The new forest policy would be implemented when sub-committee of the cabinet submitted its recommendations.
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Publication:PPI - Pakistan Press International
Date:Aug 27, 2019
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