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Forests and trees sustain and protect us, providing clean air and water: Speakers

Lahore, March 21, 2014 (PPI-OT): Forests and trees sustain and protect us, providing clean air and water, safeguarding biodiversity and acting as a buffer against climate change. For many people, they also offer food, shelter and employment. Therefore, there is a need to protect forests.

This was the upshot of speeches delivered at a seminar “Public Private Partnership in Promotion of Forestry in Pakistan” jointly organized by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, government of Punjab, Greengrowth and British Council. Provincial Secretary Forests Javed Akbar Bhatti was the Chief Guest while the seminar was presided over by the LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar. Deputy Secretary Forests Shahid Rashid also spoke on the occasion.

The Provincial Secretary Forests said that forests were equally important for the economic safety of the country as round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global gross domestic product. Non-monetary benefits from forests, such as water, energy, shelter and medicine, are estimated to be two to three times as great. Forested catchments supply three quarters of freshwater, which is essential for agriculture, industry, energy supply and domestic use.

He urged the private sector to play their role for the promotion of forestry in the country. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar said that unfortunately it is one of the most neglected area of present time but it is a matter of satisfaction that public and private sectors are making joint efforts to protect forests and plant trees.

“We have terribly failed to recognize that forestry is an integral feature of sustainable economic development. It could not capture policy attention for generating new economic opportunities. Resultantly, the economic and social potential of forestry has remained underexploited.

He said that by developing forestry as a commercially viable sector, the country can make the agriculture sector stable and valuable for economy.

He said that considering the available facts and figures, the potential for new investment in forestry is very much significant. Currently, local industry such as paper and furniture is experiencing serious supply-shocks which are not only impeding their further growth and but also slashing their international competitiveness.

The LCCI Vice President said that timely policy-response, investment and coordinated efforts from the key stakeholders are required to improve the situation.

He proposed that government should adopt a comprehensive forest development strategy to address the production and conservation needs in close consultation with the private sector and scientific community while paying full attention to environmental, water table and social displacement considerations.

He said that government should make long-term arrangements for attracting large investment and also provide incentives for advanced forest management technologies.

Kashif Anwar said that all city-district governments should earmark certain percentage of land in their areas for forestation. He said that large public sector estate holders such as Pakistan Railways and Armed Forces etc. should increase forestation in their lands.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Khalil
Information Department
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI)
Lahore -54000, Pakistan
Tel: +9242 111 222 499
Fax: +92 42 636 8854

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