Trees still cut illegally inside Paktia forests: Locals

GARDEZ (Pajhwok): Some residents of southeastern Paktia province on Monday claimed that felling of trees inside reserve forests in their areas continued despite efforts to prevent the illegal logging.

Government officials also confirmed the issue and said efforts were underway to fully protect forests in the province.

Abdulllah, a resident of Zazi Aryub district, told Pajhwok Afghan News that in the past a government department would protect jungles in the district, but now local residents had taken over that responsibility.

However, he said illegal cutting of forest trees continued due to lack of attention on the part of the authorities concerned.

“Now we have hired two tribesmen each against 12,000 afghanis per month, they walk around the mountains and inform us if someone is cutting trees without their permission. Then we not only confiscate the tree but also punish the person involved as per the tribal agreement.”

Amanullah, a resident of Ahmadkhel district, said people’s poor economic situation had compelled them to cut trees in the forests and meet their daily needs.

He urged all government institutions and NGOs to resume Mandayer Mountain wood project run by a German firm before the civil war. More than 500 individuals worked on the project, he recalled.

He said: “Our people don’t have other work to do and meet their families’ needs except cutting the forests. The government has to provide alternative source of income to people such as saffron, vegetables and other projects.”

Fazal Rabi, another resident of the Zazi Aryub district, expressed his concern over the illegally cutting of forests, which he said was affecting the environment.

He said, “I have visited my district three times and complained about forest cutting in my village because the Mandayer’s Mountain is called “National Park” and we hope the government will deploy some Afghan Local Policemen (ALP) and plant some fruit trees.”

Paktia agriculture department head Mohammaddin Momand also confirmed the issue and said still nearly 30 percent of the province’s forests was lost to illegal logging but efforts were underway with the help of local councils and tribal agreements to fully protect the forests.