GILGIT, Mar 21: World Forest Day was celebrated across Gilgit-Baltistan, unlike past, with a very committed and enthusiastic manner as number of events were organized to raise awareness and sensitize mountainous communities regarding the significance of afforestation and the importance of conservation of natural resources. The regional forest Department arranged various gatherings of conservationists, notables, and significant personalities of the area at a number of points in the region to take them along in the journey of afforestation as envisaged by the government.
Secretary Forest and Wild Life Mr. Asifullah Khan told reporters that his department was set to bring a green revolution in this mountainous terrain where afforestation was needed not only for the region but for the whole country could benefit. He explained the importance of creating awareness in masses about the significance of sustaining forests and encourage dwellers to engage in tree plantation activities even at the household level He was of the view that Pakistan being one of the top most countries affected by climate change needs to work hard to cope with the situation, adding that the consequences are apparent in the form of extreme weathering events such as floods, heatwaves and cyclones over the past two decades. He maintained that 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” he said. Deforestation, however, creates an imbalance in the natural climate by increasing carbon dioxide, which leads to global warming, thus, Forest department would move heaven and earth to control chopping down trees. Efforts to retain and improve forest population was the main focus of his department and said introducing new technology and research for the efficient use of natural resources was dire need of the hour. He asserted that depleting forest cover has exposed the mountain communities, across Gilgit-Baltistan to landslides and flash floods and unabated logging has denuded the once green mountains and the coming generations will have to pay the price of deforestation. He said the target of plantation campaign 2018 is being achieved without any obstacle. Mr. Khan said all stakeholders were taken onboard that’s is why community support was won. It was disclosed that next year a target of planting 10 million trees was under active consideration and accordingly strategy is being carved out.
It is noteworthy that various species of trees were planting across GB to mark the World Forest Day. Mr. Khan said in order to lessen pressure on the most precious specie Deodar the department was seriously considering to introduce Sheesham, a new specie that would be quite a new experiment for the use of community. He disclosed that a nursery of sheesham is being set up in Boner Das valley which is Public Private Partnership aimed at diverting attention of the masses from Deodar. Mr. Khan said the nursery is pervaded over 200 Kanals and a new phenomenon in the GB forestry and hoped it would bear best results. Secretary Forest and Wild Life reaffirmed the commitment of the government to deal violators and timer mafia with an iron hand and said the writ of the government shall be ensured at any cost. ” Those who chopped down trees in Sai Jaglote faced the music which is a lesson for the rest of the people” he said.
It is pertinent to note that the Forest Department has confiscated illegally cut timber from Sai Jaglote valley and auctioned the timber and deposited the amount into national exchequer. He said more stern actions are on the cards against the violators.