Forests help slow down climate change, says Mushahidullah
Islamabad: Senator Mushahidullah Khan said yesterday that forests are a major defence line against negative impacts of climate change, particularly floods, droughts, groundwater depletion and sea intrusion.
“However, all efforts aim at tackling climate change and its negative impacts will definitely fail, if deforestation continues,” warned Khan during his key note address to the inaugural ceremony of the Monsoon Tree Plantation 2015 here at Bani Gala Reserved Forests near Zoological Survey of Pakistan.
Depriving earth of tree cover means exposing the planet and the life it harbours to irreversible damages, added Mushahidullah, Federal Minister for Climate Change. “All of us must understand that without trees/forests earth and the life on it is at risk of vanishing,” he emphasised.
“Conserving and protecting the existing forests and increasing tree cover in the country are at the heart of all activities of my ministry. I would leave no stone unturned to increasing country’s tree cover from current less than five per cent to 12 per cent in next a few years.
However, the long-term goal of our national forest policy, which is being finalized, is to increase tree cover up to 25 per cent of the total land mass of the country,” Mushahidullah explained.
He urged all governmental and non-governmental sectors to join ministry’s efforts to save country’s existing forests and boost the tree cover to make the planet sustainable for us and our coming generations.
The minister told the participants that forests hold four major roles as far as coping with the vagaries of climate change is concerned besides holding potential to slow down and stabilise climate change, which has becoming increasingly erratic because of shrinking of forest cover globally. One of the major roles of the forests is to remove carbon dioxide from the air. If carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere, it could severely alter the earth’s climate. Forests also provide a home for many plants and animals that can live nowhere else, he highlighted.
“The forests currently contribute about one-sixths of global carbon emissions when cleared, overused or degraded. They react sensitively to a changing climate.
When conserved and managed sustainable, the trees produce wood fuels as an alternative to fossil fuels; and finally. And more importantly, they have the promising ability to absorb about one-tenth of climate-altering carbon emissions projected for the first half of this century into their biomass, soils and products and store them – in principle in perpetuity,” Mushahidullah Khan told the participants while counting invaluable environmental, social and economic values of forests.
He said that forests help conserve and enrich the environment in several ways. For instance, by soaking up large amount of rainfall, forest soils prevent the rapid runoff of water that can cause erosion and flash flooding. Besides, rain is filtered as it passes through the soil and becomes ground water.
Almost all water ultimately feeds from forest rivers and lakes and from forest-derived water tables. The forest provides shelter for wildlife, recreation and aesthetic renewal for people, and irreplaceable supplies of oxygen and soil nutrients.
Deforestation, particularly in the tropical rain forests, has become a major environmental concern, as it can destabilize the earth’s temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels.
Later, a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Climate Change and Pakistan Tobacco Company was signed for establishing the botanical garden in Islamabad.
Earlier, the minister inaugurated the monsoon tree plantation by planting a tree in Bani Gala reserved forest area in Islamabad.