By Pir Abdul Wahid (Advocate High Court)
Pakistan’s first forest policy was announced in 1955, followed by the forest policies of 1962, 1975, 1980, 1988, 1991 and 200121. The current draft “National Forest Policy, 2005, Ministry of Environment, Government of Pakistan” was announced in 2005 as an umbrella policy to provide guidelines to the provincial governments and FATA, which may develop their own policies. The forest peoples, however, have rejected these policies as against their rights. The “NWFP Forest Ordinance, 2002”, currently applied in the NWFP province, has been criticised as exploitative by peoples hailing from the forest areas of Dir-Kohistan, Swat-Kohistan, Hazara division, FATA and central and southern districts of NWFP province, under the banner of Sarhad Awami Forestry Itehad (an alliance of small forest holders).
Background to the 2005 National Forest Policy.
Pakistan has ratified the R, “United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD), 1997” which addressed combating arid and semi-arid areas known as dry-lands through soil conservation, vegetation conservation and growing dry-afforestation.As a result, the Punjab Forest Policy Statement, 1999 was approved. The policy stated the Provincial Government’s intention to involve stakeholders in management of forests and watersheds and to encourage private sector investment in forests through joint forest management, joint ventures, long-term leases and suitable incentives. The policy preparation process involved policy dialogue within the province of Punjab.At the provincial level the the NWFP Forest Policy, 2001 includes the participation of local communities and promotion of private sector investment among its cardinal principles. The policy also recommends revision of forestry legislation to provide for joint forest management.The next step was the National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) which was was initiated to safeguard public health, ￼￼￼promote sustainable livelihood and enhance the quality of life for the people of Pakistan. Approved in 2001, it provides for participation of the private sector, NGOs and citizens groups in execution of projects at the local level. The Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) as of May 2003 recognized the poverty environment nexus and the opportunities that the forestry resources provide to the livelihood of the rural poor. As a result of the above the following steps were taken;
i) Establishment of a forum or similar mechanism for forest policy analysis, Formulation and Monitoring its Implementation. (Completed by LEAD- Pakistan)
ii) Raising awareness on forestry issues and the development of a communication strategy on forestry and related issues. (Under implementation by WWF)
iii) Developing a Strategy for the Establishment of Public Private Partnership in the Forest Sector of Pakistan (Under implementation by SUNGI)
iv) Development of National Vision 2025 for Forest Biodiversity Conservation – A Strategy for Action (Under implementation by Pakistan Forest Insitute in collaboration with Ministry of Environment)
The National Environmental Policy 2005 was approved by the Cabinet in 2005 by the Federal Cabinet. The policy involved inter-provincial and inter-sectoral consultation. The Policy has the forestry and biodiversity as the key areas of Environment Sector.
There have been policies after this in 2007 and 2010￼￼Meanwhile Pakistan is The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which was an amendment to the international treaty on climate change was ratified in 2005.Since 2005 the Non-Legal Binding Instrument (NLBI) has also been promulgated.
There are similar provincial laws on fisheries, forest and wildlife resources :
- The Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974.
- The Punjab Forest (Sale of Timber) Act, 1913.
- The Balochistan Wildlife Protection Act, 1974.
- The Baluchistan Forest Regulation, 1890.
- The North-West Frontier Province Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1975.
- The North-west Frontier Province Forest Ordinance, 2002.
- The North-west Frontier Province Protected Forest Management Rules, 2005.
- The Sind Wild-life Protection Ordinance, 1972.
- The Punjab Fisheries Ordinance, 1961.
- Sindh Fisheries Ordinance, 1980.
- National Policy and Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development in Pakistan, Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, Government of Pakistan, Islamabad, June 2006.
- National Forest Policy for Sindh 2010