PESHAWAR: WWF-Pakistan celebrated World Forest Day 2018 in collaboration with Environmental Science Department, University of Peshawar.
The event was organized to raise awareness and sensitize students and communities regarding the significance of afforestation and the importance of conservation of natural resources, says a press release issued here on Tuesday.
To honour World Forest Day, indigenous species of trees including chir, fig, bakain and alstonia were planted around the university campus.
During the event, Syed Kamran Hussain, Regional Manager Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Focal Person Forests, WWF-Pakistan, highlighted the alarming rate of deforestation in the country and its associated consequences.
He also explained the importance of creating awareness in masses about the significance of sustaining forests and encouraged participants to engage in tree plantation activities at the household level.
Pakistan is one of the top most countries affected by climate change, placing seven according to Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index, and the consequences are apparent in the form of extreme weathering events such as floods, heatwaves and cyclones over the past two decades. Forests are natural carbon sinks and play a significant role in reducing carbon footprint and curbing global warming. Besides mitigating against the adverse impacts of climate change, forests also provide habitat to animals, livelihood to humans, prevent soil erosion and offer watershed protection.
Deforestation, however, creates an imbalance in the natural climate by increasing carbon dioxide, which leads to global warming. Unfortunately, Pakistan has the least amount of forest cover in Asia. According to the Asian Development Bank (2015), only 1.9 per cent of the country’s total area is covered by forest, while an average of 25 per cent is recommended. Alarmingly, this is the lowest level in the Asia.
According to Syed Kamran Hussain, “The situation for Pakistan is already critical. We are seeing impacts of climate change from the north to south. Communities are migrating due to extreme weather events and their livelihoods are threatened, leading to various socio-economic problems. But despite this, our forest cover is declining but in order to mitigate climate change we need to have reverse these trends.”
Globally, WWF advocates for a transformed forest sector to ensure that vulnerable forests are protected from illegal logging, encroachment or conversion and that there will be no plantations that displace communities or take away their livelihoods.