ISLAMABAD – Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam has said the monitoring of forest resources through remotely sensed data, and backed by field-based observations, is vital for effective assessment of forest-related greenhouse gas emissions that have negatively altered the global climate system and their removals from atmosphere to slow down global warming.
Addressing a national consultative event held here on Tuesday, he said that sustained monitoring of forest resources and changes in forest lands and their overall outlook is at the heart of efforts for stemming deforestation, degradation of forests and environmentally-harmful forest land use changes.
Given the importance of technology-based forest management, the amount of information gathered during forest inventories has thus grown rapidly and has, in turn, help improve ability of forest scientists, researcher and policymakers to survey and manage many services, such as: biodiversity, ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration from atmosphere to slow down climate change and reduce climate shocks in shape of floods, heatwaves, cyclones, crop failures, wildfires and loss of biodiversity, the PM’s aide Malik Amin elaborated.
Malik Amin Aslam highlighted that technology development, adaptation to country circumstances and its adoption by existing national forest systems, as suitable to country needs, offer a promising potential to improve accuracy of field measurements in forests, reduce the time and the costs accruing from field sampling activities and to improve the extrapolation of forest-based estimates over large spatial scales, including remote and/or conflict areas.
New technologies could be, however, also a workable way for supporting the implementation of transparent national forest monitoring systems for sustainable forest conservation and management, he added.
The PM’s aide said further that today the adoption, adaptation, and viability of technologies for forest monitoring and sustainable management by national and subnational entities, private companies, research and academic organisations, NGOs, and civil society could also face many constraints that limit use of such technologies. Among them, the inadequate technical skills in using those new technologies were the most important, which are being faced by the federal and provincial forest departments, he added.
But, it was a matter of joy to see that now such constraints were being addressed through training and capacity building programmes being organised by the climate change ministry’s REDD+ Pakistan project, Malik Amin remarked.
The PM’s aide said that scientific forest monitoring was considered globally of paramount importance for measuring progress of any country’s achievements for international reporting and better planning for forest conservation and their sustainable use.
However, the climate change ministry under its World Bank-funded REDD+ Pakistan project has already provided the latest forest monitoring and GIS equipments to all the provinces and territories, previously.
And the drones being provided to today would further support provinces/territories to undertake real-time monitoring of forestry resources including the on-going forestry initiatives in the country such as, the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) launched under the PM Imran Khan’s vision for Clean and Green Pakistan, Malik Amin Aslam hoped.
He also urged the provincial forest departments to establish permanent monitoring systems in their respective territories to make best use of these modern equipments provided under the World Bank-sponsored REDD+Pakistan project.
Organised jointly by the Ministry of Climate Change and the UN-sponsored Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) Initiative and Pakistan REDD+ Readiness Programme, the event was attended by representatives of various ministries, government organisations, UN agencies and educational institutions with background in conservation and protection of forest resources and creation of carbon sinks from deforestation.
It primarily aims for “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries and promoting conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in the countries.
Deforestation and forest degradation are the second leading cause of global warming, responsible for about 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which makes the loss and depletion of forests a pressing issue for climate change.
According to the UN’s IPCC 5th Assessment Report, deforestation and forest degradation accounts for about 11 percent of the total global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Yet, at the same time, the forestry sector has the potential to sequester 31 percent of climate-altering carbon emissions from the atmosphere.
Around 80 percent of the Earth’s above-ground terrestrial carbon and forty percent of below-ground terrestrial carbon is in forests. In addition to the large contribution of deforestation and forest degradation to global emissions, combating both has been identified as one of the most cost-effective ways to lower emissions, according to UN studies.
Malik Amin Aslam cautioned that the issue of deforestation and forest degradation needed to be effectively tackled, as it would otherwise limit the options available to cut greenhouse gas emissions, greenhouse gas concentrations and increases in global temperatures to levels where humans and earth ecosystems would survive.
“Any cut in the rate of deforestation and forest degradation has the benefit of averting a significant source of heat-trapping carbon emissions and addressing other environmental and social problems as a result of deforestation,” he remarked.
The PM’s aide Malik Amin emphasised that Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) is an stunning and the country’s largest-ever afforestation programme, which has already started providing several benefits in shape of biodiversity and ecosystem restorations, improvement in local weather conditions, soil stabilisation and improved rains in the areas forested under the TBTTP.
The TBTTP has been launched with an overarching aim to mitigate climate crisis and its social, economic and environmental shocks, stem deforestation and forest degradation and also support sustainable forest management conserves water resources and prevents flooding, reduces run-off, controls soil erosion, reduces river siltation, protects fisheries and investments in hydropower facilities, preserves biodiversity and preserves cultures and traditions, he explained.
“With all that at stake, it is clear what has to happen when we plant trees, stop deforestation and forest degradation. With all the services that forests provide both to humanity and the natural world, there is now widespread global understanding of a simple yet profound fact as being reflected through our TBTTP that forests are more important when left to grow and standing than get cut,” Malik Amin Aslam told the participants.