Islamabad: The Federal Minister for Environment Ms. Samina Khalid Ghurki has said that dry land forests are in fact the nature’s green assets. It is the time to get aware about increasing dangers of Desertification, Land Degradation and Drought (DLDD). The importance of this day has become more crucial for Pakistan because of the looming threats of climate change impacts, which are likely to affect food and economic security of the vulnerable population in arid and semi-arid regions of the country. She expressed these views on the occasion of WORLD DAY TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION here today.
She further said that Forests provide innumerable services to people of Pakistan by maintaining ecological integrity, land productivity, reducing vulnerabilities of poor dry land communities against natural disasters like flash floods and drought. Time has come that we stand firmly for the protection of our dry land plant species against on slaught of many anthropogenic, socio-economic and climate change threats and promote large-scale propagation of these green assets for the survival of our dry land people and conserving these forests for our future generations.
Ms. Samina Khalid Ghurki said that the Government of Pakistan is making efforts to promote protection of dry land forests and address major threats faced by tree species growing in the dry lands through the Sustainable Land Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment jointly funded by the GEF-UNDP and GoP. This project is helping dry land communities to protect their precious tree resources using water conservation, dry-afforestation techniques and raising of nurseries of the most threatened plant species which are not grown in traditional forest nurseries. Such species include Kandi, Katha, Lahura, Peelu, Neem, Siris, Phulai, Tamarix, Ber, Guggal, Phog etc. These plants if protected from over-exploitation are able to survive extreme dry climatic conditions, she added.
Environment Minister also said that World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) is being observed around the world today with theme that “Forests Keep Dry lands Working.” The purpose of observing this day was to create awareness among general public about this core issue. This year’s theme of the WDCD is in consonance with 2011-International Year on Forests. Minister pointed out that the purpose is to bring invaluable dry land forests to the forefront of the global and national agenda because of their diverse and wide-ranging environmental and socio-economic benefits, including their role to serve as carbon sink and mitigate climate change impacts. She was of the view that Dry land forests in Pakistan perform diverse functions and services, including timber, firewood, fodder, gum and other Non-Timber Forest Products. These forests also protect watersheds, stabilize land, regulate hydrological cycle, and help in maintaining ecological balance. However, she said, despite their role in supporting livelihoods of majority of dry land people in Pakistan, the dry land forests is often overlooked due to lack of awareness and limited knowledge on their significance on local environment.
It is important to mention here that Pakistan is observing the WDCD by organizing special events such as “Peelu Day” in Layyah/Bhakkar, Punjab and “Guggal Day” in Tharparkar, Sindh to highlight the importance of these dry land forest species under the GEF-UNDP and GoP funded Sustainable Land Management Programme of the Ministry of Environment. In addition, special poster, brochure, newspaper articles and messages on electronic media are being issued on this day.
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