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Environmental, forest experts concerned over rapid deforestation in Pakistan

05:21 PM | 31 Dec, 2015
Environmental, forest experts concerned over rapid deforestation in Pakistan
LAHORE (Staff Report) - Environmental and forest experts expressed Thursday their concern over rapid deforestation which is going on at a ratio of 27,000 hectares per year across the country.

According to official data, Pakistan has total forest cover of 4.4 million hectares, and the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year.

It says 53,000 Pakistanis are directly employed in the forestry sector, while the country has 213 million metric tonnes of carbon stocks in living forest biomass.

Chairman Department of Forestry, Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi Professor Dr Mirza Sarwat Naz Beg told APP that timber Mafias, clearing of land for developmental projects burning of wood
as fuel could be the main reasons for deforestation across the country.

The main drivers are the country's growing population and the associated demand for wood, as well as weak governance and land encroachments, Dr Sarwat added.

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Dr Kashif Salik researcher at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) said that according to UNESCO's International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, Pakistan's juniper forest is believed to be the world's second largest such reserve.

Meanwhile, he said that clearing of Juniper forest or trees was alarming as these were replaced by orchards, he added. To a query Salik said that It is illegal to cut down juniper, whether the land is publicly or privately owned. However, he said that comprehensive data or estimation of the amount of juniper forest being cleared each year,was not available he said. "The problems facing the forest are ecological and environmental as well as economic" he said.

Fakhar-e-Abbas, a scientist at the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, says juniper trees are being infected with fungus and bacteria due to inbreeding.

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"The trees are located in an isolated place and fast losing their genetic diversity," he said.
It is important to strengthen the trees' immunity to protect them from diseases and the negative effects of climate change, he added.

"We are working on a plan to exchange some trees with central Asian states to ensure cross-breeding in the forest," he said. Khudai Rahim Ejbani, a forest official said that that people are chopping down the trees and using forest land for agriculture and orchards, even though the government tries to stop them.

Government was serious and concerned about the rapid deforestation, however was making comprehensive policy to stop further degradation of the public private sector forests."If there had been no threat to people from government officials, they would have denuded the whole forest land in six months," he said.

Nonetheless, Ejbani acknowledged that some forest officials are also involved in cutting down trees.
"We have underlined a policy to suspend any of forest officials who will be involved in bribe-taking and dereliction of duty," he said.

The government plans to strengthen forestry laws, Ejbani added.In Pakistan, he said the forest can be saved only if the government provides jobs for local people residing in the forests' areas, he
said.

"The trees may be an asset for the government and international organisations, but for the locals they are (just) a source of livelihood," he said.

The author is working as Editor Digital Media for Daily Pakistan and can be reached @ItsSarfrazAli.

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Pakistani rupee exchange rate against US dollar, Euro, Pound and Riyal - 29 Feb 2024

Pakistani rupee remains stable against US dollar in the open market on February 29, 2024 (Thursday).

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

In the open market, the US dollar was being quoted at 279.1 for buying and 282.35 for selling.

Euro currently stands at 303 for buying and 306 for selling while British Pound rate stands at 352 for buying, and 355.5 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED hovers at 76 whereas the Saudi Riyal saw slight increase, with new rates at 74.3.

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 29 Feb 2024

Source: Forex Association of Pakistan. (last update 09:00 AM)
Currency Symbol Buying Selling
US Dollar USD 279.1 282.35
Euro EUR 303 306
UK Pound Sterling GBP 352 355.5
U.A.E Dirham AED 76 76.7
Saudi Riyal SAR 74.3 75.1
Australian Dollar AUD 181 183
Bahrain Dinar BHD 743.11 751.11
Canadian Dollar CAD 207 209.2
China Yuan CNY 38.82 39.22
Danish Krone DKK 40.69 41.09
Hong Kong Dollar HKD 35.7 36.05
Indian Rupee INR 3.37 3.48
Japanese Yen JPY 2.1 2.18
Kuwaiti Dinar KWD 907.32 916.32
Malaysian Ringgit MYR 58.49 59.09
New Zealand Dollar NZD 173.05 175.05
Norwegians Krone NOK 26.36 26.66
Omani Riyal OMR 725.68 733.68
Qatari Riyal QAR 76.74 77.44
Singapore Dollar SGD 207 209
Swedish Korona SEK 27.04 27.34
Swiss Franc CHF 317.76 320.26
Thai Bhat THB 7.76 7.91

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