Devastating forests’ fires

In a record number of 111 incidents of fires in different forests on the mountains of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa 210,100 trees mostly of pines have been destroyed. This is not only a significant damage caused to the Billion Tree Plantation Project, which was launched in 2014 in response to fight headlong the challenges of climate change, but will also disturb the  efforts of restoring the ecological balance. As an eyewash exercise, the provincial government has decided to set up a committee to probe the matter. But in the past the reports of such committees have never been made public and responsibility has not been fixed on the ones who may have been responsible for inflicting damage of national resources.

The people of Sawat had given a sit-in front of the office of District Forest Office last year on account of merciless and unauthorized cutting of trees in forests. The Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had then set up an inquiry a committee to probe the matter and fix the responsibility on those who may be hand-in-glove with the timber mafia but it later turned out a hush up exercise as nothing concrete came to lime light.

The occurrence of 100 plus incidents of breaking out fires in forests in one month is a serious matter if the provincial government takes seriously the tree plantation vision of the Prime Minister Imran Khan who is keen to mitigate the impact of climate change by vigorous implementation of mass tree plantation programmes in the nook and corner of the country. It would have been worthwhile if the PTI provincial government had learnt from the experience of Bhutan about the protection of forests. If the futility of setting up committees for fact finding is any guide then an inquiry commission on the forests’ fires seems more appropriate if the provincial government is really interested in digging out the facts.