ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan has said that the government is committed to safeguard existing forest resources and increase area under forests from below 5 percent of the total land mass of the country.
“In this goal, I will leave no stone unturned to achieve this ambitious goal for the sake of our present and future generation’s healthy lives and sustainable environment,” he made these remarks in a statement issued on occasion of World Forest Day observed on Saturday.
He said that boosting tree plantation at all levels was must for protecting humans, animals and plants from delirious impacts of global warming.
The minister stressed, “No matter how many trees are planted today will secure future of our existing and future generations from the devastating impacts of climate changing causing carbon emissions, particularly carbon dioxide.
“Failing to which will only continue to expose humans and every kind of the life on earth to harmful effects of the global warming,” he added
He said,”This year, the World Forest Day (WFD) 2015 is being marked across the world including Pakistan under the theme ‘Forests and Climate Change’, which highlights forest-based solutions to address climate change mitigation and adaptation, and more broadly forests and sustainable development.
“This global celebration of forests provides a platform to raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests and of trees outside forests.
“Forests and trees offers key solution the most of the disasters triggered by climate change including (flash) floods, land erosion, river erosion, landslides and forest fires.
They also sustain and protect us in invaluable ways. Because, they provide the clean air that we breathe and the water that we drink.
“They host and safeguard the planet’s biodiversity and act as our natural defence against climate change. Life on earth is made possible and sustainable thanks to forests and trees.”
Talking about benefits of forests, the minister said,”Forests constitute to be the most biologically-diverse ecosystems on land, home to more than 80 percent of the terrestrial species of animals, plants and insects. Besides, they also provide shelter, jobs and security for forest-dependent communities.”
Mushahid Ullah Khan also said that while playing an important part in the battle for adapting to and mitigating climate change, the forests were valued for balancing oxygen, carbon dioxide and humidity in the air as well as protecting watersheds, which supply 75 percent of freshwater worldwide and nearly the same amount in Pakistan.
“Yet despite all of these priceless ecological, economic, social and health benefits, global deforestation continues at an alarming rate – 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed annually.
Deforestation accounts for 12 to 20 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change,” the minister deplored.
Appreciating the role of forest officials at the climate change ministry, Mushahid Ullah Khan said that the country last year won $3.8 million grant from the World Bank through its Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) under the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) facility.
Pakistan was among 27 developing countries, who were competing for the funding to boost forest in their respective countries through REDD+ projects. But only eight countries were selected and our country is luckily among them, which is no doubt a huge success, according to the minister.
REDD+ is an opportunity of unprecedented signifiacen as it offers incentives for developing countries like Pakistan to tackle deforestation and invest in low-carbon pathways to sustainable development.
The $3.8 million would be used over a period of two years for readiness activity and capacity building, he added.