LAHORE – The Punjab government is going to lease 99,077 acres of land for afforestation and rangeland management, announced South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) Chairman AwaisLeghari on Monday.
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Leghari, while addressing a press conference at the office of SPFC in Lahore, gave an overview of SPFC and its initiative to promote afforestation in South Punjab under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode.
“A total of 99,077 acres of land in the form of 187 forest lots of various sizes in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh and DG Khan are being offered to the investors for 15 years so that commercial forestry and range management activities can be done,” he told the media.
The government has set 15% reserve price of the total production for afforestation and Rs2,000 for rangelands and the investor offering the highest bid to the government will secure the bid, he added.
Leghari who is an MNA and the Chairman of NA Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs informed the media how commercial forestry is on the rise across the world. According to him, more than 870 million hectares (ha) of forestlands are being leased globally.
The sector of commercial forestry is valued more than the US $ 480 billion. With Pakistan witnessing one of the highest rates of deforestation, it was imperative to promote commercial forestry, so that the nationwide wood-based demand could be met sustainably and pressure on natural forests is reduced.
While informing the salient features of the initiative to the media, the SPFC informed that the interests of the investors have been ensured through the act of parliament, Punjab Forest Act and Public Private Partnership (PPP) Act 2014.
Tahir Rasheed, CEO, SPFC, was also present on the occasion. He said, “Deforestation and forest degradation account for 20 per cent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) globally.
With climate change being a serious threat to the planet, the forest cover must be increased. Through SPFC, thousands of acres of land will be reclaimed through afforestation and rangeland management activities.
The project is investor friendly and we firmly believe it will contribute to the GDP of the country.
Responding to the media queries, Rasheed said that the Punjab government in a bid to improve the forest cover of Punjab has made it mandatory that the 25 per cent of its share will comprise indigenous tree species, which will not be filled during the 15 year concession period and yield numerous environmental and socio-economic benefits.
The SPCFC chief executive officer also said that the company will create almost 15,000 jobs in South Punjab, sequester approximately 5.6 million tons of CO2 and offer expected Return on Investment (ROI)almost 25% to 45%, varying from species to species.