Policy Issues and Analysis of Non-Profits,
NGOs and Philanthropy
A Research Essays Format
(Research and analysis area is Khaber Pakhtoonkhwa (NWFP), Pakistan)
Raja Taimur Hassan
(National Defense University Islamabad, Pakistan)
What is the Role of a Specific NGO as well as Government to overcome the Highest Rate of Deforestation in Pakistan especially in Khaber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP), Pakistan?
(A Comparative Analysis on the Working of NGO and Government)
Raja Taimur Hassan
National Defense University Islamabad, Pakistan
Pakistan is among those nations, which have limited forest resources and are unable to fulfill the demand of wood and wood products from their own domestic resources because of increasing population, uplifting literacy rate and growing per capita GDP in the country. In order to meet the growing demand of wood and wood products more than 12 Billion Rupees are annually spent to import wood and wood products from all over the globe. Unfortunately, Pakistan has very high rate of deforestation. According to the forestry sector master plan (FSMP), Pakistan cover an area of 79.6 million hectors and its forest cover area is 4.224 million hectors which is consist 4.8 % of the total area. In fact, it is claimed that forests should cover 20 to 25 per cent of a country in order to maintain a balanced economy. And the rate of deforestation in Pakistan is .2 % to .5 % per annum, which is very high and alarming. The purpose of this research essay is to highlight the root causes of high rate of deforestation, especially in Khaber Pakhtunkhwa (NWFP) and the role of NGOs, government and all stakeholders in controlling the high rate of deforestation. The analysis suggests, that involvement of all the stakeholders in the policy making process, irrespective of their interests, should go a long way to arrest the sharp forest decline in the country.
The exact definition of the term deforestationis contentious. A broad definition is the change from a primary closed canopy forest to any other use. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FA0 1982) more narrowly defines deforestation as the transformation of forest land to non-forest uses where forest land includes lands under ago-forestry and shifting cultivation, and not simply closed canopy primary forests.
“The rate of deforestation is .2% to .5% per annum, which is very high and alarming.”
Introduction (Present scenario)
Deforestation is one of the most significant global environmental problems. Total area of Pakistan is about79.6 million hectares and total forested area is 4.224 millions hectors which is 4.8 % of the total land. Forest are largely concentrated in the North West frontier province (NWFP), approx 40% of the total forested area. The rest is shared more or less equally by other provinces. Balochistan 14 %, Punjab 14.4 %, Sindh 9.4 %, Northern Area 15.7 %, AJK 6.5 %. This estimate is taken from the Forestry sector master plan (FSMP). Forest resource extends over 1.684 million hectares, which forms about 17% of the total surface of the Province (NWFP). The forest cover in the NWFP is considerably higher then the national average of about 4.8%.
Out of 4.224 million hectors of forest, 1.930 million hectors are hill coniferous forest (41 %), .259 million hectors are irrigated forest (5 %), .332 million hectors are rive rain forest (7 %) 1.639 million hectors are Scrub forest (35 %), .512 million hectors coastal forest (11 %), .024 million hectors are Mazri Land forest (.5 %), and .44 million hectors are Linear plantation (.5 %).
Problem Description and Evidences
The per capita forest area is only 0.037 ha compared to the world average of ONE ha. With the population growing at 2.6 percent annually, the forest area per capita is declining. There is also a wide gap in the production and consumption of wood. In 1993, the consumption of wood was 29.5 million cubic meters. At present, Pakistan is producing only 14 million cubic meter of wood. By 2020, it will require 50 million cubic meter of wood in order to cater to demands of the people. This wide gap in the production and consumption of wood is one of the main factors of deforestation
The area covered by natural forests in northwestern Pakistan is declining due to deforestation (Khan 2000; Rome 2005) and land encroachment (Khan 2005). In 1978, the area was covered with dense forest (Figure 1); however, GIS maps show that between 1978 and 2001 agriculture accelerated at the expense of forest cover (Figure 2). This loss of forest is leading to ecological changes, such as loss of important medicinal plant and wildlife species, as well as adverse impacts on livelihoods of the local population. Estimates show that, at the current rate of forest decline, the entire forest cover may disappear by 2025 (Steimann 2003). This dramatic decline in forest cover would affect the welfare of surrounding poor communities as a result of loss of forest income accruing to these communities.
Figure 1. Vegetation covers in Miandam valley in 1978
Source: Khan (2005).
Figure 2. Vegetation covers in Miandam valley in 2001.
Source: Khan (2005).
Many explanations regarding deforestation in the mountainous regions of the subcontinent are offered. Most current among these is the Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation (THED). The THED ascribes deteriorating environmental conditions of the Himalaya region to the increasing population pressure in the fragile mountain ecological environment. The second argument addresses the wider socioeconomic processes-especially urbanization of the lowland areas and the corresponding increase in the demand for timber. This also includes developmental activities and infrastructure expansion in the mountainous areas-particularly opening up of previously inaccessible forests due to construction of roads. Alternatively, another strand of research underscores the political economy approach to resource degradation. For example, research has looked into the rent seeking activities of the communities residing in/around the forests as a source of deforestation. Failure of the government to establish a proper institutional set-up for forest management has also been blamed as the cause of forest decline. The unholy alliance between private forest contractors and forest officials leading to illegal logging activities has also been quoted as one important reason for forest decline. Though these studies identify important aspects of deforestation, yet they fail to incorporate them in a broader framework.
Contemporary research on causes of deforestation treats it as a multidimensional and complex process and distinguishes between direct and indirect causes. Direct causes are the acts of agents-loggers, miners, shifted cultivators, plantation owners, ranchers etc., who use forests for its diversified products (or convert forestland to alternative land uses). Indirect causes include factors that induce behavioral patterns of these actors. These include market failures, mistaken policy intervention, institutional factors (land tenure, illegal activities) and broader socioeconomic causes (population growth and density, economic growth).
Deforestation is also cast in terms of institutional failure. Among the main reasons for deforestation, market failures and governance weaknesses are considered as most important (Contreras-Hermosilla 2000).governance failures as a probable cause of underdevelopment of the third world countries. Though no formal definition of governance failure is offered, one can borrow from Krueger’s (1990) definition of government failure, who describes it as the sum of actions and/or failures to act which result in sub-optimal situations (Krueger 1990)36. Further, Khan (1995) distinguishes between two types of state failures. Type I state failures are those where “a particular formal institutional structure results in lower net benefits for society compared to an alternative structure”. This he labels as structural failure. Type II failure occur when “the process for changing the structure of institution attains a lower cumulative set of net benefits for the society compared to an alternative process over a given period” (Khan 1995).
Role of NGO
The SUNGI Development Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works on issues of policy advocacy and community development, was established in 1989. It began its work in the Hazara Division of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. In its primary stages, Sungi was started by a handful of committed young community volunteers working mainly on lobbying and advocacy of environmental degradation issues, including DEFORESTATION and forced resettlement triggered by the construction of large dams and other “development” activities. These phenomena appeared symbolic to the eyes of the founders of Sungi who felt that the poor in the North-West Frontier Province were left out of the benefits of development activities and that the well-being of the people deserved more attention in the process of the country’s development.
Sungi has grown from only seven staff in 1993 to the present 70 staff members and now operates in four districts of the mountainous parts of Hazara in Haripur, Abbottabad, Mansehra and Battagram, covering more than 100 communities. It has developed over 150 community-based organizations, half of which are women 5 associations, and has nearly 5,000 volunteers. Sungi has achieved this expansion despite the severe geographical constraints of the region, which cannot be overemphasized. The Hazara Division of the North-West Frontier Province spreads over the plains of the Indus and is engulfed by the rugged foothills of the Himalayan mountain range. The area also suffers from a fragile geological stratum, which makes it highly prone to large-scale erosion and landslides.
Achievements and impact
In terms of quantifiable achievements, Sungi’s community development activities through its Field Operations Unit, responding to community needs in health, sanitation, farmer training, savings and credit, and natural resources management, have had substantial and measurable results. Since its establishment in 1989, Sungi has started or strengthened more than 150 men’s and women’s village organizations, and primary training has been given to over 2,000 community members, 500 of whom were women. More than 500 farmers, including 100 women, have received training in agriculture, forestry development, sericulture, horticulture, animal husbandry techniques and small enterprise/local craft development. Sungi, with its partner VOs and WOs, has planned and implemented over 80 irrigation channels, link roads or footbridges, and other small infrastructural schemes aimed at environmental rehabilitation, improvement in the quality of life and the raising of farm incomes.
Dr. Shahid Zia, Executive Director, Sungi Development Foundation presented peoples perceptions of forest and inability of the colonial laws, based heavily on income generation to arrest deforestation. He asserted that the rich and not the poor are responsible for the cutting and selling of trees. However the failure of the government to curb woodcutting by providing other alternatives has heavily affected the poor people. The current forest management approaches do not consider social and economic dimensions as they are heavily tilted in favour of income generation.
He explained that there is a nexus between integrated family health and forest system in NWFP. Studies carried out suggest that a single illness in the household would push the entire family into the poverty trap, compelling people to resort to deforestation as a source of livelihood. He stated that the policies designed in isolation without the active involvement of communities to develop the mountain areas would not yield the desired results, and referred to studies, which show that communities get 30-60% of their uncultivated food from forests.
Role of Government
The government has failed to develop forestry sector through out especially in the NWFP. The underlying hypothesis is: the primary cause of deforestation in Pakistan is failure of state to establish a system that would ensure proper exploitation of forest resources. The working hypotheses are: (1) The process of government control over forests created a discordant structure of property rights; (2) Government was pitted against the community and social recognition of state property was absent, which made forest management an impossible task; (3) Massive deforestation on part of the government exacerbated the dwindling state of public forests; (4) Management failures placed forest contractors in a comfortable alliance with the FD causing excessive felling.
It is concluded that Sungi is a successful example of a local NGO that has, in a short period of time, built upon indigenous knowledge, local practices and local leadership to achieve significant advances in the rights and well-being of village communities and development of the forestry sector in North West region of Pakistan.
Analyzing the present scenario, review of literature, comparative analysis of NGO and government role in the development of forestry sector I recommend that government should adopt the principle of decentralized and participatory decision making , equitable and sustainable development. I believe that these principles may be achieved only through “advocacy-based development” in which advocacy and community development are integrated for two sides of the same coin.
- Full Analysis of the Sungi Development Foundation, Pakistan , a non-governmental organization (NGO)
- Tanvir Ali; Munir Ahmad; Babar Shahbaz; Abid Suleri Impact of participatory forest management on vulnerability and livelihood assets of forest-dependent communities in northern Pakistan (International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology)
- Hasan, Lubna An Anatomy of State Failures in The Forest Management in Pakistan
Pakistan Institute of Development Economics
- National forest policy 2001
- Government of Pakistan (1992). Forestry Sector Master Plan. Government of Pakistan. Islamabad.
- Khan, M. (1995) State Failure in Weak States: A Critique of New Institutionalist Explanations. In J. Harriss, J. Hunter, and C. M. Lewis the new institutional Economicsand the Third World Development. London: Routledge.
- See Ives (1987) for a review of the Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation THED, and about its validity in the light of available evidence.
Interview conducted from:
- Dr. Shahid Zia, Executive Director Sungi Development Foundation.
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