A seminar in context of UN International Day of Forests was organized by Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah International University and Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) on March 21, 2016 in Islamabad. The seminar discussed the various options available with the government to conserve the national forests in collaboration with local communities. The audience appreciated Riphah’s initiative to facilitate the government and academia to collaborate and find solutions for the most concerning issue of ‘deforestation’ in country.
Mr. Ali Salman, Executive Director of PRIME, presented his research paper on “The Footprints of Leviathan: Dwindling Forests of Pakistan”. He stressed that forest management should be driven on the basis of private property rights and market based incentives instead of state led system. He argued that forest dwellers should be compensated for the services they are providing for water shed areas in shape of protection against soil erosion. He also opposed the provision of a new national forestry Institute in Islamabad. He was of the view that the best policy to fight timber mafia is to liberate the timber trade by eliminating tariffs.
Dr. Masood Raja, Professor at University of Texas, responded to the various options discussed in the forum. He emphasized is that privatization is not the solution for the current problems. He was of the opinion that government can significantly make an impact because it doesn’t have a profit-motive in its initiatives.
Mr. A.M. Kaimkhani, DIG Forests, Ministry of Climate Change mentioned that deforestation is mainly caused by the four factors including increased adoption of technology, forest fire, trading timber and infrastructure development. However, he asserted that after UN Climate Change Conference 2015, the Prime Minister Nawaz Shareef has issued several directives to ensure that the government is keenly working to curtail the impact of climate change and deforestation. He further apprised the audience with the fact that though environment is a provincial subject, the central government is actively working in coordination and monitoring of the provinces.
The ceremony was concluded with the remarks of Dr. Rashid Aftab, Director Riphah Institute of Public Policy, that that a technical session will be held at Ministry of Climate Change to discuss the draft forest policy and propose intervention in consultation with Riphah – Prime.
Policy Review which is based on the research conducted by Mr. Ali Salman can be downloaded from the link below: