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Future of Green Gold in Chitral -letter

Definition of development has changed with the passage of time as well as with the introduction of new ideas in the process. During classical era increase in National GDP or Real Per-Capita Income was regarded as pre-requisite for economic development. But externalities and after affect of the development in the form of environmental degradation, water and air pollution were often ignored. Amid these thoughts sustainable development approach came forward in which development has been redefined as socioeconomic development where development must be environmental friendly, bring positive change in society and externalities of the process should minimum. In this connection environmental degradation and issues relating to pollution have been addressed. First defense line of environment that is forest has been termed as “GREEN GOLD” in new development scenario. It is internationally recognized fact among the expert that 20% area of any country should contain forest for viable development and clean environment. Unfortunately here in Pakistan we have only 4% forest which is not encouraging for sustainable development. Under Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Pakistani government is committed to increase its area under forest up to 15% in next few years.

District Chitral is the most attractive point for international tourists due to green forest spread in southern Chitral, and Kalash valleys. There are tourists’ resorts in southern Chitral as well especially in Shishikuh, Jinjirate Kuh and Ursoon but infrastructure in the said areas has not been developed by concern department for tourism purpose. Besides tourism purpose forest plays dominant role in socioeconomic life of District Chitral. Forests are the only source of fuel wood as well as timber in district Chitral because there are no other source of fuel and material for building construction.


Majority of population in Chitral are dependent on forest for their requirements of timber and fuel and this dependency exert tremendous pressure on forest which result deforestation and decrease in size of forest. Increase in population is also a big cause in forest degradation. Presently size of forest in Chitral is decreasing at fast rate, if this trend continued without break future of our Green Gold seems very grim. Timber mafia in the grab of contractor, businessmen and smugglers also pose serious threat to the forest of Chitral. Especially during issuance of Tree Permit (TP) supply of timber under government bidding program (Marking) limit of legal sanction for timber supply is crossed by the TP holder and contractor who acquire the bid during tender.


 When a person acquires permit for 100 feet of timber he hands over the said TP to specialized timber machine owner for supply of the wood. And owner of timber machine supply 300-400 feet against 100 feet legally sanctioned by forest department. Hence dealing in timber has become the most profitable and attractive business in district Chitral. Official of Forest Department posted in various check-posts are also aware of the whole exercise but indifferent attitude of these officials towards ruthless cutting of forest is behind our perception. If these officials posted in various forest check-posts would have Argus -eye on timber mafia there would have been totally different situation in district Chitral. D.F.O (Forest) Chitral is honest, committed and dedicated person and he is sensitive regarding protection of forest in Chitral but without support of local community he cannot succeed in his noble mission. In this connection it has become primary duty of every Chitrali to extend helping hand to forest department especially D.F.O Chitral in order to control deforestation and illegal timber business. If local community and forest department work in coordination of each other Green Gold of Chitral will be protected from any future hazards. Local community can play very positive role in protecting and promoting of forest in their own areas if they have been properly educated by Non-Government Organization and forest department. To protect forest of district Chitral from imminent catastrophe following measures should be taken by all the stake-holder including forest department.

• Promotion and protection of forest should be made under participatory approach with involvement of local community in the whole process through formation of Forest Protection Committee (FPC) at village level. Forest Department and other organizations interested in protection of forest and environment should come forward and educate community through workshops, seminars and directly involving local community in protection process. Involvement of local community in protection and promotion of forest will be cost effective and sustainable approach to control deforestation in district Chitral. Grazing at village level is also affecting forest and it could be controlled and regulated by educating community members through Forest Protection Committee.

• Annually Forest department and government of Pakistan starts plantation program in various areas but grooming of plants and increase in forest area due to these plantation campaign is not visible anywhere in Chitral and rest of Pakistan. But due to lack of proper care from forest department and local community 90% of the plants wastes in the process. To make the process successful local community and F.P.C should be involved in the process of caring and protecting of the new plants. If local community is involved in the process then success of plantation and increase in size of forest will be become imminent in district Chitral.
• Timber Mafia and smugglers are also potential threat for future of forest in district Chitral. This menace can also be controlled by FPC at community level. It is also obligatory that FPC should be educated regarding importance of forest for development of our country. Coordination between FPC and Forest Department can control timber mafia for fulfilling their ill design on sustainable basis.

• Forest Department and Forest Guards posted in various check-posts play very active role in protection of forest in Chitral. They also need capacity building program and refresher courses to meet new challenges in protecting and promoting of forest in district Chitral. They should be monitored by D.F.O Chitral and Forest Protection Committee in controlling smugglers at check-posts. Especially owners of timber machine deceive Forest Guards in the grab of Tree Permit and they carry timber in excess of the TP and sell in black market. Forest Guards should strictly verify the quantity of timber and TP if someone found carrying timber in excess of TP then strict action should be taken against the culprits according to the forest rules.
• There are also reports that limit are also crossed during marking by forest contractor and influential people who deceive forest department. Highest possible scrutiny and cross verification should be made by forest department in order to control excessive marking than the specified limit.

• Prosecution of Cases registered under forest rule are not properly supervised by forest department officials and persecution authority, that is why majority of culprits are not convicted and punished which encourage timber mafia and smugglers in district Chitral. It is utmost important that maximum possible care and struggle should be made by forest department in registering cases and convicting member of timber mafia in the court of law. If once member of timber mafia is convicted and punished then smuggling will discourage in district Chitral.

If these steps are taken by Forest Department Chitral, local community, political leaders and Non-Government organizations working in Chitral it will bring positive change in future of Green Gold in the district. Otherwise it will be too late to protect our forest amid the challenges posing serious threats to our forest and beauty of Chitral. Let us move and work together to protect and promote our GREEN GOLD.


Ghaniur Rehman,


03 May 10.



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