End to ban on tree harvesting, transportation demandedArchive
PESHAWAR: The Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad has called upon the provincial government to lift the five-year long ban on the transportation and harvesting of windfall and dry standing trees in Malakand and Hazara regions.
It feared since the condition of the already dumped timber has deteriorated, the relevant people as well as the exchequer could suffer heavy losses.
Members of the SAFI, a network of the people of forest areas in the province, met here the other day.
General secretary of the grouping Jamshed Khan chaired the meeting, where people from different forest areas, including Amir Mohammad Khan of Kalkot, Gul Nawab of Kalam and Dost Mohammad of Bahrain, were in attendance.
The participants examined different forest related issues and expressed concern about the government’s ban on transportation of windfall and dry trees marked by the forest department but dumped along the roadside in different areas.
They also complained about restriction on the harvesting of dry standing trees.
The participants said initially, a complete ban was imposed on transportation of windfall and dry standing trees in 1993 after the devastating floods.
They said in 2003, the ban was lifted by the provincial government, which permitted the harvesting of dry standing and windfall trees after proper marking by the forest department.
The participants said in 2010, the provincial government again banned the transportation and harvesting of windfall and dry trees after reports surfaced about their illegal harvesting in Chitral.
They said they failed to understand why the government had been punishing the entire forest community if some people had committed a wrongdoing in Chitral.
The participants said a committee led by adviser to the chief minister on environment Ishtiaq Urmer had recommended last year the lifting of that ban.
They, however, said the provincial government issued a notification on June 23 saying the National Accountability Bureau, Anti-Corruption Establishment and the relevant commissioner would conduct fresh inquiries about the timber marked in different regions.
The participants said they believed that by further delaying the issue, the condition of millions of cubic feet timber dumped on the roadside and dry standing trees had deteriorated, especially due to the ongoing harsh weather and rains.
They also discussed the issue of delay in enhancement of forest royalty to 80 percent from the existing 60 percent in different areas of Dir, Swat, Shangla and Hazara.
The participants said it was discrimination as in certain areas in Dir, the forest royalty given to the people was 80 percent of the receipt of sold timber, whereas in most other forest areas, it was 60 percent.
They said the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had twice passed resolutions calling upon the provincial government to enhance forest royalty, so the government should not further delay the matter.
The participants complained that the federal government recently shared a draft forest policy with NGOs and other stakeholders for recommendations but ignored the SAFI, the largest organisation of forest people in the country.
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2015
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