We live in an era of unprecedented road and highway expansion. It is an era in which many of the world’s last tropical wildernesses, from the Amazon to Borneo have been penetrated by roads. This surge in road building is being driven not only by national plans for infrastructure expansion, but by industrial timber, oil, gas, and mineral projects in the tropics.
Pakistan is a forest deficient country. It has suffered the loss of forest biodiversity (conifers, riparian, thorn, mangroves) owing to poor management practices of over hundred years, which administer forest systems by dividing conifers into periodic blocks. Policy makers gave preference to certain species on the basis of commercial interests. They ignore taxonomy and follow no scientific procedures. All these practices have led to fragmentary ecosystems and brought some species to the verge of extinction.
Despite their environmental costs, the economic incentives to drive roads into wilderness are strong. Governments view roads as a cost effective means to promote economic development and access natural.
Local communities in remote areas often demand new roads to improve access to markets and medical services.
There is a need for a permanent think tank outside the government and advocacy groups to support forest policy formulation and implementation process on a perpetual basis as reflected in the Forest Policy 2001. The government should focus on improvement of forest management practices to prevent the loss of biodiversity (for example, reduce the practice of giving preference to certain species for their commercial value and ignoring other species). The integration of ecosystem approach to forest management can prevent further fragmentation of forest habitats.
Think about how much we can avoid if deforestation is controlled.
The government needs to incorporate taxonomy in forest management. Including women in forest management decisions and forestry projects should address the gender dimensions of deforestation. In the final analysis, the effective enforcement of the existing laws and regulations on forests use and management and involvement of the communities in the policy making process from the very outset enables the government to address and arrest sharp forest decline by creating a feeling of a sense of ownership and empowerment among communities.