Critical Analysis of the Forest Policies of Pakistan
Critical Analysis of the Forest Policies of Pakistan
The term “forest policy” is used in many different contexts, from a general statementof overall aim, goal or general objective of forest resource management for a country,to a fairly detailed prescription of a course of action with specified objectives fora rather narrowly defined field (Fraser 2002). Here the title “forest policy”is used as specific forest policy promulgated by the Government of Pakistan from time to time.
A brief review of the past forest policies is given in this section.
FOREST POLICY 1894
Pakistanemerged as an independent country in 1947 and after independence timbersupply was cut off from India and pressure on Pakistani forests for timber supply wasincreased. Pakistan inherited the prevalent forest policy made by the Government ofBritish India in 1894. The management of forests in the Indian subcontinent was acritical issue for the British colonial government, which recognised the importanceof forests as a resource with the potential to yield significant economic returns(Ahmed and Mahmood 1998; Qazi 1994). After colonisation of the Indian sub-continent, around the middle of the nineteenth century, British started with theirland settlement process. The state extended its control over forests through IndianForest Act of 1878, and as such nationalised one fifth of India’s land area. Under thislegislation punitive sanctions were introduced against transgressors, and a forestdepartment was set up to police the forests in addition to regulating tree fellingin the areas brought under government supervision (Banuri and Marglin 1993;Hassan 2001) The spirit of that act continued in the Indian Forest Policy of 1894.The forest service traditionally placed greater emphasis on holding of governmentcontrol and the enforcement of edicts then on the needs of the communities wholived in and around forests (ICIMOD 1998). As a result, existing community rightsto forest resources became proscribed. The then existing Indian Forest Policy of1894, setting guidelines for forest conservancy, was adopted and continued to beimplemented by the Government of Pakistan until 1955.This policy resulted in a small, well-preserved public forest estate, but pro-vided nothing for improving and extending forests. It also lacked participation offorest communities, and allowed forest rights and concessions to multiply to thepoint where right holders’ demands could not be satisfied without damaging forestgrowth. Ahmed and Mahmood (1998) assumed that this policy was an outcome ofthe normative-autocrative approach of the administrators and foresters trained andexperienced in colonial tradition. While Khan and Naqvi (2000) commented “this form of colonial governance was effective only so far as the administration did notmisuse its power and community needs for forest products were relatively limited.In a more fundamental sense, it was flawed. The top down, non-participatory ap-proach drove a wedge between communities and their birthright by denying themto say in its management and subjecting them to legal process, which was oftenarbitrary. The unprecedented levels of degradation that country is witnessing cur-rently, partly has its roots in it. Alienated from their resource base, communitiesare becoming profligate in its use.
. NATIONAL FOREST POLICY 1955
The first forest policy agenda of the Government of Pakistan was issued in 1955.The guidelines for the first policy were provided by the then Central Board ofForestry constituted in 1952. This policy aimed at increasing the area under forests.With the introduction of canal irrigation system, the land (closer to the canals)was reserved for raising plantations. Unused government lands were given to theprovincial forest departments to grow forests. Extensive linear plantations wereto be established along roads, canals and railways. Some new irrigated and linearplantations were established (FSMP 2003). But as the policy had not addressedthe problems of hill and scrub forests, these continued to deteriorate. Forests couldhardly meet right holders demands for timber and livestock grazing. The policy alsoignored the pressing need to afforest denuded hills and to manage watersheds andrangelands. Forest resources, particularly in the uplands, became rapidly depletedand the policy was realised to be inadequate. Ahmed and Mahmood (1998) wrote“this policy failed to play an effective role in monitoring the policy process andpolicy implementation. The professional norms of elite foresters trained in theBritish tradition continued to mould forest policies. The consultation process, ifany, remained confined to professional and administrative circles.”In 1958 the first martial law in Pakistan was imposed. The then army chieftook over the control of the government and started the process of reviewing andupdating the previous policies including forest policy. Thus the prevalent forestpolicy of 1955 was revised and replaced by a new forest policy in 1962.
NATIONAL FOREST POLICY 1962
The National Forest Policy 1962 (like forest policy of 1955) was formulated entirelyby representatives from federal and provincial governments. In this policy someunconventional suggestions were made. These included: shifting population outof the hills, acquisition of rights of tree removal and grazing from pubic forests,compulsory growing of a minimum number of trees on private lands, encouragingfarm forestry by the Agriculture Department through research, and imposing taxon highly eroded private lands. To boost forest production, it encouraged fast-growing species and shortened rotations. This policy went on to recommend moving people from mountains to plains in the critical watershed areas and else where consolidation of scattered homesteads to currently located villages. While somesuggestions were implemented, others such as the shifting of populations werefound to be impractical, as it would have adversely affected the livelihood of localcommunities. There was no substantial increase in forest area or production andforests continued to deteriorate as demand for wood and other products continuedto increase (Ahmed and Mehmood 1998; ICIMOD 1998).This policy also emphasised the management of public forests and was partic-ularly concerned with the expansion of area under forests. The primary objectivesof forest management, as envisaged in this policy were generation of revenue andmaximisation of yield from forest. These forest policies served to set the tone fora top-down approach towards forest management, and reinforced the notion thatcommunities had no interest in forest management and no stake in preservation ofthe public forests in particular.
NATIONAL FOREST POLICY, 1975
In 1971 the East wing of Pakistan was separated (which is now Bangladesh) and anew (democratic) government took over the control of Pakistan, in this backgroundthe new forest policy was formulated in 1975. The policy marked an importantdeparture from the first two policies in that the drafting committee for the policy in-cluded representatives from both governmental and non-governmental institutions.This policy was somewhat “people friendly” policy, in that it recognised that themanagement of guzara forests (private forests which are managed by the state forthe owners) should be entrusted to owners themselves, with state taking only super-visory responsibilities (Hassan 2001; ICIMOD 1998). The policy recommendedthe formation of owners’ cooperative societies, but recommended that forest har-vesting should be carried out entirely by public sector corporations. According toAhmed and Mehmood (1998), “the only policy that has been people friendly is that of 1975, which emphasized awareness raising and recommended use of negativelegal measures as a last resort.”In 1977 the then government was overthrown by the military, and the new (mar-tial law) government started the procedure of analyzing the conditions of forests,rangelands and other natural resources. As a result the new forest policy was pro-mulgated in Pakistan in 1980.
NATIONAL POLICY ON FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE 1980
The National Policy on Forestry and Wildlife 1980 was formed as a part of the1980 National Agricultural Policy. After stressing the inadequacy of forest area,shortage of fuel-wood and timber, and the deplorable condition of watersheds andrangelands, it provided a listing of general statements on future forestry; suggestedimprovement measures included; planting of fast-growing species and fuel- wood plantations outside public forests, involvement of people for tree plantation andnature conservation through motivation, coordinated development at provincialand national levels, creation of national parks, departmental forest harvesting onscientific lines and production of medicinal herbs on wild-lands (FSMP 2003).Reasons for and approaches to achieve these objectives were never given and thepolicy lacked proper incentives. Resources continued to deteriorate under increasingpopulation pressure and insufficient reforestation efforts.In 1988, the new (democratic) government constituted a National Commissionon Agriculture, which also made some recommendations on forestry. Most of therecommendation of the Commission were finally incorporated in the 1991 ForestPolicy.
PAKISTAN FOREST POLICY 1991
The revival of interest in forestry as a distinct discipline has much to do with theinfluence of donor agencies who had become prominent players in the develop-ment initiatives in Pakistan in the eighties. The policy of 1991 was influenced toa considerable extent by donor agencies involved in implementing forestry pro-grammes at the grass root level without necessarily relying on any support from theforest departments. This policy emerged after a consultative workshop of variousstakeholders. It called for multiple uses and the consideration of social and (partic-ularly) environmental objectives, although it remained vague about the means forachieving those objectives (Ahmed and Mehmood 1998). The main objectives ofthis policy, which was announced as part of the National Agricultural Policy were;to meet the country’s environmental needs and requirements of timber, fuel-wood,fodder and other products by raising the afforested area from 5.4 percent to 10 per-cent by 2006; to promote social forestry programmes; and to conserve biologicaldiversity and maintain ecological balance through conservation of natural forests,reforestation and wildlife habitat improvement (FSMP 2003).This policy contained guidelines for forest conservancy. While providing forgovernment ownership of forest lands and thereby creating a small area of publicforests under the provincial Forest Department, the policy gave vast discretionarypowers to the officials of Forest Departments in determining what they deemed“reasonable forest requirement.” This policy was also perceived as reflecting “thecolonial form of governance these laws and institutional structures are meant toincreasing the government’s income, depriving people of their rights on natu-ral resources, and suppressing the people’s aspirations through centralization ofbureaucratic powers.” (SAFI 2000).In October 1999, the military once again took over the control of the governmentand General Musharraf became new chief executive of the country. Immediatelyafter the coup the General announces his 7-point-programme. The devolution ofpower to the grass root level was one of such point. According to Geiser (2000)“the military coup led by General Musharraf added an additional dimension to the already complex forestry reforms.” The new government again reviewed the forestpolicy and the outcome of this process is the new National Forest Policy of 2001.
NATIONAL FOREST POLICY (DRAFT) 2001
The new Forest Policy of Pakistan was prepared in 2001, but it is still waitingits formal approval from the parliament. This policy covers the renewable naturalresources (RNR) of Pakistan i.e. forests, watersheds, rangelands, wildlife, biodi-versity and their habitats. The policy seeks to launch a process for eliminating thefundamental causes of the depletion of RNR through the active participation of allthe concerned agencies and stakeholders, to realise the sustainable development ofthe resources. It is an umbrella policy providing guidelines to the federal govern-ment, provincial governments and territories for the management of their RNR. Inconsonance with it the provincial and district governments may devise their ownpolicies in accordance with their circumstances. The goal of this policy is to fosterthe sustainable development of RNR of Pakistan, for the maintenance and rehabil-itation of its environment and the enhancement of the sustainable livelihoods of itsrural masses especially women, children and other deprived groups.This policy also stressed the stricter control over the public forests. According toGovernment of Pakistan (2001), “this policy shall encourage the provincial govern-ments to create, effectively managed protected area networks in areas under theircontrol seeking the needed financial and technical assistance from the federal gov-ernment.” But at the same time this policy recognised the importance of communityinvolvement in the resource management. “Appropriate institutional mechanismsshall be devised for the collaborative management of such protected areas with thelocal communities in order to give them an economic and environmental stake inthe endeavor” and “in the poverty alleviation and other development programmes,high priority shall be given to integrated land use projects for the sustainable re-habilitation of RNR with the participation of organized local communities. Suchprojects not only provide employment to the rural poor but also improve the envi-ronment and increase the supply of firewood and fodder” Government of Pakistan(2001).
PROVINCIAL FOREST POLICY 2001
According to constitution of Pakistan, forestry is a provincial mandate and theprovinces can make and implement their own forest policies with in the frameworkof the national forest policy. In this context the new forest policy of the North WestFrontier Province (which contains more than 40 percent of the country’s remainingforests) was announced in 2001, in which the new participatory approach in forestmanagement finally achieved legalised status. Participation of local communities,promotion of private sector investment, and recommendations for the revision of the forestry legislation has been included. Illegal harvesting and the local needfor fuelwood and construction timber have been recognised as core problems. Thepolicy for the first time not only addressed the traditional forests but also the man-agement of rangelands, wastelands, watersheds and farm forestry. In this regard,the document can be seen as a trendsetter in Asia (Suleri 2002a). Nevertheless, anon-governmental organisation Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI) criticisedthe new policy as a completely donor-driven document, giving no more than lipservice to real issues, and as such that would not lead to a real change in the forestdepartment’s attitude towards local people (Steimann 2003).
PROVINCIAL FOREST ORDINANCE 2002
It is a proven fact that none of the policy initiative or the policy in itself can besuccessful and effective without a legal basis. The North West Frontier Provinceforest ordinance, which was promulgated on June 10, 2002, defines the institutionaldetails for forestry in the province, following the guidelines given by the ForestPolicy 2001. The territorial staff of the forest department can now carry weaponson duty for self-defence, although only range officers are allowed to open fire. It isinteresting to see that the ordinance also provides a legal cover for the participatoryapproach of village land use planning and joint forest management and describesthe staff’s involvement in the work with communities. For many observers, thisis a serious contradiction that will result in a status quo of the present situation.Several civil society organisations unanimously rejected the ordinance and heldpublic protests against it. SAFI even announced to observe June 10 as a “blackday” (Steimann 2003; Suleri 2002a).It is pertinent to mention here that so far the existing laws (including the NorthWest Frontier Province Forest Ordinance) are punitive in nature. They provideonly penalties for contravention of their provisions but do not contain incentivesfor compliance, as had been recommended in the National Conservation Strategy,Forestry Sector Master Plan, and forest policies of the Punjab and North West Fron-tier Province. According to Ahmed and Mehmood (1998), “most forest policies,until recently, have viewed people as the prime threat to the forests, and have at-tempted to exclude groups other than the government from decision making.” Thisapproach did not only affect the sustainability of the livelihood strategies of thelocal people, but also increased the vulnerability of the marginalised sections of thecommunities. It ultimately led to unsustainable management of natural resourcesand forest depletion. Suleri (2002a) writes “the Forest Ordinance of NWFP con-tradicts the spirit of different policy measures. It is punitive in nature and tend toincrease the policing role of forest departments.” For instance, the proposed NWFPforest ordinance designates forest department staff a uniform force bearing armsand also enhances their police powers, which go against the intent of the forestpolicy that enshrines the principles of participatory social forestry. Similarly, thediscretionary powers of forest officers to revoke a community-based organisation(CBO)/Joint Forest Management Committee (JFMC) agreement as suggestedin this ordinance would result in uncertainty and insecurity among differentJFMCs/CBOs.
Analysing the forest policies of Pakistan, it is found that, most of the policy initia-tives, until recently, were aimed at forest conservation and ignored the livelihoodprovisions for local communities. However, even the conservation aspect of thosepolicies was never implemented effectively. People’s participation in plantation andmanagement of forests was not given sufficient attention and social and cultural as-pects of forest management were ignored. The roots of this approach can be tracedback to the colonial era.Till 1975 all previous forest policies (1894, 1955 and 1962) were top-down,autocratic, aimed at saving public forests, increasing forest area by acquiring theland under the control of forest department, enhancing public forest yield andcreating more revenues from the forests. The policy resolution of 1894 depictedthe sole objective of managing state-owned forests for public benefit which meantrestriction and regulation of rights and privileges of the local forest dependentpopulation. The top-down (colonial) approach of governance was also reflected inthe first national forest policies of 1955 and 1962. These policies recommendedgreater powers to the forest department. The policy of 1962 recommended not onlythe enhancement of penalties under the Forest Act but also demanded magisterialpowers to the forest officers. The 1975 forest policy was the first policy whichrecognised the people living in and around forest areas as stakeholders. However thispolicy was more political in nature than being public service oriented. This policyremained theoretical whereas practically the attitude of an average official of theforest department remained the same as set by previous policies. He liked to exhibitmore authoritarian and possessive behaviour, quite similar to a policeman. Therewas less checks and balances on the officials of the forest department regardingtheir own illegal actions.The 1980 forest policy was developed under the umbrella of the military gov-ernment. This policy also recognised the importance of the involvement of localpeople in tree plantation but at the same time it limited the rights of local people bybringing more land under the control of state and establishment of national parks.In 1991 there was again democratic government in the country and it presented a“donor driven” policy. Its focus was on meeting the environmental needs of countryin a sustainable manner. Quite similar to some previous policies it was also targetedto increase forest production and area. This policy generated concepts like forestryextension and appointment of green man (forest extensionist) who was entrustedto educate farmers to develop farm forestry and involvement of local people in theforest management. The draft forest policy of 2001 provided the concepts suchas active participation of stakeholders, sustainable forest management, sustainable livelihoods etc. But this policy continued negative aspects such as encouraging thepolice like behaviour of the forest department.The analysis also depicts that the past forest policies (1955, 1962, 1975 and1980) were associated more or less with the change of the governments to meetthe government’s political objectives. However the policies of 1991 and 2001, areclaimed to be participatory, but the civil society organisations blamed these to be“donor driven” policies, ignoring the ground level realities and needs of the localpopulationIn fact policy initiatives cannot achieve their objectives unless and until the sus-tainable livelihood of stakeholders is not taken care of. According to Geiser (2000),“in practice, forest resources are made inaccessible for the poor and marginalisedsections of the communities, whereas the influential along with members of thetimbre mafia consumed these resources at their own sweet will.” This dichotomycreated a sense of lack of ownership among the marginalised sections not onlyadding to their miseries but also encouraged them to adapt illegal means to meettheir needs from forest resources.The dilemma with most of the natural resources management policies in Pakistanin the recent past has been the absence of attention to human dimension aspectsand a focus on a “pro-conservation” approach even at the cost of local livelihoods.Part of the problem stemmed from the non-participatory culture that prevailed inPakistan. The trends are changing now and today the world is no longer tied up in the“conservation” versus “development” debate. Rather a new approach “conservationas well as development” has now emerged (FAO 2001; Shackleton et al. 2002; Wily1997). The proponents of this approach include many governments, internationaldonors and international lending agencies are revisiting their “vision and missionstatements” to reposition themselves in a scenario that leads to development withoutdistorting the conservation of natural resources.On the face of it, this trend seems very good and in this context the journeyof forest policies in Pakistan that started from The Forest Policy of 1894 to thedraft National Forest Policy of 2001 (at federal) and North West Frontier Province(NWFP) Forest Policy 2001 (at the provincial level) is a giant leap. However, for anydevelopment effort to be the pro-poor, good governance is a must. Unfortunately,Pakistan (like other developing countries) lacks good governance. Although duringthe formulation of new policies, the consultation with a group of experts has becomea common practice during recent past, yet the consultation process remains confinedto the folds of professional circles. Thus, the policies become stronger on technicalconsideration but lacking the required flexibility to make them work in real lifesituations, presenting multiple sets of actors and factors.Consequently, the stakeholders often find themselves in a situation where statepolicies either do not support or have harmful affects on their livelihood strategies.It is in this scenario that policies do not meet the expectations of people who in turnare forced to utilise the natural resources unsustainably to secure their livelihoods.Consequently neither the developmental nor the conservational objectives are met.
No injury is deeper than insult