PESHAWAR: The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) launched two new publications, ‘Forest Futures, Sustainable pathway for forests, landscapes and people in Asia Pacific Region’ and ‘Forestry Sector Review: Pakistan’. The reports were launched by Advisor to the Prime Minister on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam and FAO Representative in Pakistan, Minà Dowlatchahi in Islamabad.

The ‘Forest Futures, Sustainable pathway for forests, landscapes and people in Asia Pacific Region’ report, which calls for coordinated approaches to reverse biodiversity loss and avoid an “environmental catastrophe” scenario, is the third forest-sector outlook study that will contribute to forest related decision-making. The report explores three different scenarios for the future of forests. The first two scenarios, ‘business as usual’ and ‘disruptive’ present an unfavourable picture which may result in suboptimal results, or cause severe social and economic repercussions and loss of  sustainable development opportunities as a result of deforestation. The third scenario, ‘aspirational’, involves an outcome with increased overall forest cover. In this scenario, primary forests are preserved and forest related SDGs and other targets agreed upon in global processes are effectively achieved.

The Forestry Sector Outlook also provides a strategic analysis of forests and landscapes in the region to help policymakers and various stakeholders identify actions needed to realize a sustainable future. This review provides options for robust actions that will help address challenges in forest and landscape management to ascertain an aspirational future.

The 2019 Forestry Sector Review for Pakistan builds on secondary data to provide reconciled statistics and outlines the main issues affecting forestry sector in the country. The report gives a comprehensive overview of the situation of forestry resources, and identifies various hotspots and related opportunities to address key drivers of deforestation in Pakistan. This report also presents recommendations that can help pursue the “aspirational” scenario for Pakistan.

Present at the launch, chief guest Malik Amin Aslam stated: “We still need more focus on natural resource management to ensure we preserve our land and biodiversity while improving livelihoods of our people and preserving our forests.”

“FAO’s publications provide insights on how we can turn what seems like trade-offs between economic development and forests and biodiversity conservation into synergies and opportunities for improved ecosystem management and livelihoods,” said Minà Dowlatchahi, FAO Representative in Pakistan.

The report’s launch was followed by a policy dialogue, which brought together key stakeholders from the federal and provincial levels to discuss challenges and opportunities for sustainable management of forests in Pakistan. The discussion also helped identify key elements of successful strategies for forests such as land tenure, capacity of forest departments, involvement of local communities including women, and payment of ecological services to move towards a successful Forest Restoration Strategy.

The Forest Sector Review conducted by the FAO with financial support from the World Bank aims to develop a better understanding of current and potential environmental, social, and economic impacts of forest ecosystems in the country.