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21. Pakistan

Country data

Total land area 1995 (thousand ha)


Total forest area 1995 (thousand ha)/% of total land area


Natural forest 1995 (thousand ha)


Total change in forest cover 1990-95 (thousand ha)/annual change (%)


Population total 1997 (million)/Annual rate of change 1990-95 (%)


Rural population 1997(%)


GNP per person 1995 in US$


Source of data: FAO - State of the World’s Forest 1999

General information

Improving and transforming the country into a free market economy has been a top priority of the Government since 1990. In 1991, economic policies were formulated in that direction, including a programme of privatisation, deregulation, and the formulation of new agricultural, industrial, and energy policies. In order to support the expansion of international trade and investment, relations were strengthened with members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Japan. Economic co-operation links were also strengthened with Turkey.

The military took over the government on 12 October 1999. It was the major event during the last two years. The Military Government outlined 7 agendas as follows: rebuilding national confidence and morale, strengthening the federation, removing inter-provincial disharmony and restoring national cohesion, reviving the economy and restoring investors confidence, ensuring law and dispensing speedy justice, depoliticising state institutions, devolution of power to grass root levels, and ensuring the board’s accountability. The Government emphasised loan and tax recovery, accountability and revival of economy and restoration of investors’ confidence. Further, the Government announced an economic revival plan consisting of tax reform, reprioritisation of public expenditure towards poverty reduction, debt reduction, and privatisation and reviving investors’ confidence.

Although some problems were faced, including economic sanctions, the economic performance showed positive progress. The GDP grew by 4.5%, the agriculture sector grew by 5.5% in 1999, and exports and imports increased by 9.8% and 10.9% respectively.

Agriculture is the largest sector of Pakistan’s economy, accounting for 26% of the GDP. It employs around 46% of work force (52% of the rural labour force), and contributes 45% to the net export earnings. The main commodities are wheat, cotton, rice, sugar cane, pulses, tea, and livestock. In recent years, awareness about the importance of forests has increased, and there is now concern for increasing the area of land under forests.

The agricultural policy adopted in May 1991 envisaged an increase in the existing forest areas from 5.4% to 10% during the next 15 years. It also contained a commitment to combat environmental degradation and conserve biodiversity by improving the management of hill forests, watersheds, range lands, irrigated plantations and the expansion of social forestry, forest research, education, and extension programmes. In order to help implement the afforestation plans, special emphasis would be put on the concept of social forestry.

Pakistan’s problems are heterogeneous and complex, caused by population growth which has increased from 34 million in 1951 to 140.5 million in 1995. Some decreases in the area of cropland due to water logging and salinity have reduced the average crop area per person from 0.4 ha in 1951 to 0.16 ha in 1995.

Forest resources

The forests in Pakistan are heterogeneous and reflect great physiographic, climatic, and edaphic contrasts. The following forest types are found:

· Tropical dry deciduous forests;

· Tropical thorn forests;

· Sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests;

· Sub-tropical pine forests;

· Litoral and swamp forests;

· Himalayan moist temperate forests;

· Himalayan dry temperate forests;

· Sub-alpine forests; and

· Alpine scrub.

According to the Government’s report, total forest area, including range lands, is 10.5 million ha, of which 1.4 million ha are productive forests. However, the contribution of the forestry sector to the national economy was 0.3% in 1999 due to ban on forest harvesting.

Wood for fuel wood is produced from state-owned forests, private farmlands, and waste lands. A study on Household Energy Strategy conducted by the Government with assistance from the World Bank, confirmed that the country’s consumption of fuel wood is high, with about 79% of all the households using fuel wood for cooking (82%), space heating (7.3%), and water heating (9.8%). Fuel wood is also used in the commercial sector by bakeries, restaurants, in ovens and brick kilns, for tobacco curing, in ceramic products manufacturing, food processing, etc.

Several forestry development and extension programmes and projects are currently being executed in different parts of the country with financial assistance from FAO, UNDP, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, KFW, and the International Fund for Agriculture Development. However, they only cover a small area and do not address all the problems of forest conservation and development. Environment and forestry awareness campaigns have created a lot of enthusiasm amongst the general public.

The Advisory Notes on the Fifth Country Programme of Assistance for Pakistan, 1993-1998 were finalised based on four cross-sectoral themes:

· Poverty alleviation (income and employment generation and social services);

· Environmental protection and natural resource management (capacity building);

· Assistance to a deregulated, open-market economy;

· Institutional adjustment for more effective management of development (implementation capacity.

Although the country is deficit in timber and the demand gap of about 734,000 m3 was met from imports, the commercial timber harvesting ban is still in effect. This has badly affected the income of poor families, who were mainly dependent upon the commercial sale of the products.

As the result of lack of rain in the past three years, some parts of Pakistan have been badly affected, particularly Baluchistan Province and certain parts of Sindh.

The Master Plan for Forestry Development (MPFD)

In view of the country’s problems relating to forest resources, including the difficulty of meeting fuel wood and timber demands, the Government decided to prepare a Master Plan for Forestry Development, covering the 25-year period from 1993 to 2018.

The MPFD envisages increasing the forest area by 10% by the year 2018. This should be achieved by planting new areas on private and public lands and restocking public lands.

Watershed protection and development will be accorded highest priority, and the Government will allocate 32% of the total estimated expenditure. A similar amount will be allocated to planting in the farm lands programme, amounting to 23% of the total expenditure. For planting and wood production programmes, the Government will allocate 19% of the proposed outlay. Programmes for the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity should receive 3.5%, and strengthening of institutions, including administration, education, and research, should represent 3.2%.

Action should focus on the following areas:

· Commercial plantations, by planting fast-growing species in irrigated areas, such as poplar, eucalyptus, semul, and bamboo;

· Fuel wood plantations on hillocks which are not suitable for agriculture;

· Afforestation of sand dunes and sand dune fixation through shelterbelt plantations;

· Watershed rehabilitation through reforestation;

· Increasing tree planting by individuals and communities through social forestry and extension programmes, encouraging NGO involvement, and increasing the price of fuel wood and timber in the country.

Recent changes in policy, legislation, and institutions

A donors meeting (International Round Table) was held on 18 April 1993 in Islamabad to discuss the MPFD document. The meeting was attended by several donors including ADB, FAO, UNDP, the World Bank, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, IUCN, USAID, ODA, WFP, FINNIDA, and AIDAB, as well as representatives of the central and provincial Governments.

It was suggested at the meeting that provincial action plans be prepared and greater community participation achieved. As a follow-up to the meeting, ADB agreed to support the implementation of the Master Plan by providing US$580,000 over a 15-month period.

Implementation of the MPFD began in the fiscal year 1993-94. The Plan proposed the setting up of planning and evaluation cells in each provincial forest department to strengthen the planning machinery. It also proposed the establishment of extension wings in provincial departments and a central Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the federal level.

The Government felt that the MPFD was too general. It was decided to undertake a social sector survey in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). In 1994, the Government requested ADB to provide support to a project with an estimated investment of US$ 75 million.

The first forest policy was revised in 1991, and the goals of the new policy feature the following:

· Meeting the country’s environmental needs and requirements of timber, firewood, fodder, and other products by raising the afforestation area;

· Conserving the existing forest, watershed, range land and wildlife resources, and developing them to meet the increasing demand;

· Promoting social forestry;

· Encouraging planting of fast-growing and multi-purpose species in irrigated plantations, riverine forests, and private lands;

· Generating opportunities for income and self-employment;

· Promoting NGO and voluntary organisations’ support to public education programmes.

A National Conservation Strategy was adopted in 1992 and had an important effect on the forest policy. The emphasis on meeting the country’s environmental needs was a direct result of the policy for conserving natural resources. Growing concern for environmental protection was reflected in the policy for conservation of forests and trees. In line with privatisation and deregulation policies, a higher emphasis was given to private sector intervention in forestry development. However, no forest area owned by a public sector forest industry has been privatised so far.

As a follow-up to UNCED, and given the concern about the environmental impact of industrial projects, environmental protection agencies were created at the provincial and federal levels.

The most notable change in forestry administration was the creation of cells/wings in provincial forest departments for the implementation of social forestry programmes. The staffs of these cells approach farmers to explain the benefits of tree planting. Lectures are arranged in connection with congregation prayers. Occasionally, seminars are held which farmers are encouraged to attend. Farmer’s Days and Farmer’s Conferences are held periodically. Plantation Weeks are organised twice a year. Cash and other prizes are awarded to farmers who plant the most trees. NGOs are also active in the field, encouraging farmers to plant more trees.

Progress in increasing the forest area has been limited due to financial and social constraints. The only way to increase the forest wealth is to extensively grow trees on farmlands. In order to involve the farming community in tree growing activities, social forestry programmes have been launched throughout the country with attractive incentives in the form of a subsidised supply of planting stock, partial payment of planting cost, free protection of planned areas for a limited period of time, and a fair return to the farmers. As a result, farmers have been induced to take up tree growing on 47,000 ha of farmlands annually under various social forestry and watershed management projects. During tree plantation campaigns in 1997, 238.4 million plants were planted. Due to the political situation, the country has drawn criticism from abroad. Multilateral and bilateral institutions/donors withheld their duly paid financial commitments. WB and ADB also suspended the already agreed upon loans with the previous government. Consequently, progress in the forestry sector development is becoming stunted.

Country wide survival rates of seedlings/saplings were reported at 63% to 81%. In addition to increasing planting trees, research in forestry should focus on:

· methods for creating economic incentives for responsible stewardship of forests by integrating forest management with other activities, such as agriculture and livestock husbandry;

· education and training to teach the local people the methods and benefits of integrated forest management.

In line with the policy that more focus be given to community participation, the forestry department staff have been re-oriented towards effective people’s participation through extension and training programmes. During the process of implementing the social forestry programmes, it was found out that the existing forest policies and acts would not allow full community participation in the government-owned and managed forests. To overcome these problems, institutional and policy reforms are currently under way in some provinces.

The present environmental legislation is by and large considered adequate. The laws for controlling illicit cutting and damage to ecosystems need to be enforced strictly.

Biodiversity conservation

Government statistics show that there are 10 national parks with a total area of 954,246 ha, 82 wildlife sanctuaries on 2,749,054 ha, and 82 game reserves on 3,535,284 ha. However, protection and scientific management of these areas are not adequate. In the majority of these reserves, grazing by domestic stock, collection of fuel wood, cutting of trees, and illegal hunting and poaching are common and almost nothing is done to preserve the ecosystem.

The development of a wildlife park at Loi Bher district will be continued. Development of tourist facilities at Ayubia National Park and the wildlife extension programme will also be carried on.

Pakistan is a signatory to several international conservation conventions, including Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR), the World Heritage Convention and the Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn). In addition, Pakistan is a member of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the International Waterfowl and Wetland Research Bureau, and the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF)

A national plan for conservation of biodiversity is being prepared. All species of wild plants and animals which are considered threatened or endangered species will be given the highest priority for conservation in this plan. The preparation of the plan will begin with the preservation of habitats and making inventories of populations under threat. The welfare and interests of the local people will be considered of highest importance in the management plans of nature reserves through the rural support programme.

Combating desertification

A major part of Pakistan lies in the arid and semi-arid zones. The total area represented by the arid and semi-arid zones is 70 million ha, including 11 million ha of sandy deserts in Thal, Cholistan (Punjab), Thar (Sindh), and Chagai Kharan, and also the coastal belt of Mekran, Gwadar, and Lasbela (Balochistan).

Desertification is an ongoing process and recognised as a severe problem associated with agriculture and grazing animal husbandry in semiarid lands. Measures being suggested to minimise desertification include:

· controlling desertification by regulating development of cropland and livestock;

· maintaining an ecological balance between livestock numbers and grazing land;

· absorbing excess populations into other economic activities;

· developing and popularising new energy sources such as: solar energy, bio-fuels, electricity, fuel wood plantations, and local coal sources;

· reconverting marginal croplands by changing land use regulations;

· developing land use patterns that integrate grazing lands, woodlands, and croplands; and

· developing and applying an integrated master plan.


The main constraints in implementing the forest policy are the lack of funds and the socio-economic conditions prevailing in forest and rural areas. Funds are scarce, and planners are reluctant to divert them to forestry projects. The people are poor and illiterate, and are not in a position to co-operate in efforts to conserve forest resources.

No changes have taken place in forestry legislation since the 1990-1992 period. It has been generally recognised that forestry laws and rules have become irrelevant to the current situation, making their revision and updating essential.

Although the need is clearly recognised to enlist the private sector in forestry programmes, no legislative measures have been adopted in this regard. New legislation would be necessary in order to achieve the Master Plan goal of afforestation on private land.

Future actions

· Activate and review the implementation of the MPFD.

· The expansion of farm and social forestry planting, involving Governments institutions and NGOs, with assistance from international banks and aid agencies.

· Planting trees on farmlands to reclaim salt-affected and waterlogged areas.

Focal point
Rafiq Ahmad
Inspector General of Forest
Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock
Islamabad, Pakistan
Phone: 251- 221246
Fax: 9251-213959


Give me fire and I will give you light.
(Arab proverb)

Any of us will put out more and better ideas if our efforts are fully appreciated.
(Alexander F. Osbon)

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