Forest and wildlife resources
We share this planet with millions of other living beings, starting from micro-organisms and bacteria, lichens to banyan trees, elephants and blue whales. This entire habitat that we live in has immense biodiversity. We humans along with all living organisms form a complex web of ecological system in which we are only a part and very much dependent on this system for our own existence. For example, the plants, animals and micro-organisms re-create the quality of
the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil that produces our food without which we cannot survive. Forests play a key role in the ecological system as these are also the primary producers on which all other living
Biodiversity or Biological Diversity is immensely rich in wildlife and cultivated
species, diverse in form and function but closely integrated in a system through multiple network of interdependencies.
Let us now understand the different categories of existing plants and animal
species. Based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), we can classify as follows –
Species whose population levels are considered to be normal for
their survival, such as cattle, sal, pine, rodents, etc.
Endangered Species: These are species which are in danger of extinction. The
survival of such species is difficult if the negative factors that have led to a decline in their population continue to operate. The examples of such species are black buck, crocodile, Indian wild ass, Indian rhino, lion
tailed macaque, brow anter etc.
These are species whose population has declined to levels from
where it is likely to move into the endangered category in the near future if the negative factors continue to operate. The examples of
such species are blue sheep, Asiatic elephant,
Gangetic dolphin, etc.
Species with small population may move into the endangered or vulnerable
category if the negative factors affecting them continue to operate. The examples of such species are the Himalayan brown bear, wild
Asiatic buffalo, desert fox and hornbill, etc.
These are species which are only found in some particular areas usually isolated by natural or geographical barriers. Examples of such species are the
Andaman teal, Nicobar pigeon, Andaman
These are species which are not found after searches of known or
likely areas where they may occur. A species may be extinct from a local area, region, country, continent or the entire earth.
Examples of such species are the Asiatic cheetah, pink head duck
What are the negative factors that cause such fearful depletion of the flora and fauna?
If you look around, you will be able to find out how we have transformed nature into a resource obtaining directly and indirectly from the forests and wildlife – wood, barks, leaves, rubber, medicines, dyes, food, fuel, fodder,
manure, etc. So it is we ourselves who have depleted our forests and wildlife. The greatest damage inflicted on Pakistan forests was during
the colonial period due to the expansion of the railways, agriculture, commercial and scientific forestry and mining activities. Even after
Independence, agricultural expansion continues to be one of the major causes of depletion of forest resources. Substantial parts of the tribal belts, especially in the near northwestern and central Pakistan, have been deforested or degraded by shifting cultivation.
Are colonial forest policies to be blamed?
Some of our environmental activists say that the promotion of a few favoured species, in many parts of Pakistan, has been carried through the ironically-termed “enrichment plantation”, in which a single commercially valuable species was extensively planted and other species eliminated.
Habitat destruction, hunting, poaching, over-exploitation, environmental pollution, poisoning and forest fires are factors, which
have led to the decline in Pakistan’s biodiversity. Other important causes of environmental destruction are unequal access, inequitable consumption of resources and differential sharing of responsibility for environmental
well-being. Over-population in third world countries is often cited as the cause of environmental degradation.
The destruction of forests and wildlife is not just a biological issue. The biological loss is strongly correlated with the loss of cultural
diversity. Such losses have increasingly marginalised and impoverished many
indigenous and other forest-dependent communities, who directly depend on various components of the forest and wildlife for food, drink, medicine, culture, spirituality, etc. Within the poor, women are affected more than men. In many societies, women bear the major responsibility of collection of fuel, fodder, water and other basic subsistence needs. As these resources are depleted, the drudgery of women increases and sometimes they have to walk for more than 10 km to collect these resources. This causes serious health problems for women and negligence of home and children because
of the increased hours of work, which often has serious social implications. The indirect impact of degradation such as severe drought or deforestation-induced floods, etc. also hits the poor the hardest. Poverty in these cases is a direct outcome of environmental destruction. Therefore, forest and wildlife, are vital to the quality of life and environment in the subcontinent. It is imperative to adapt to sound forest and wildlife conservation strategies.
Importance of Conservation of Rapid Wildlife Population Decline:
Conservation in the background of rapid decline in wildlife population and forestry has become essential. Conservation
preserves the ecological diversity and our life support systems – water, air and soil. It also preserves the genetic diversity of plants and animals for better growth of species and breeding. For example, in agriculture, we are
still dependent on traditional crop varieties.
Fisheries too are heavily dependent on the maintenance of aquatic biodiversity.
Types and Distribution of Forest and Wildlife Resources
Even if we want to conserve our vast forest and wildlife resources, it is rather difficult to manage, control and regulate them. In Pakistan, much of its forest and wildlife resources are either owned or managed by the government
through the Forest Department or other government departments. These are classified under the following categories.
(i) Reserved Forests:
More than half of the total forest land has been declared reserved forests. Reserved forests are regarded as the most valuable as far as the
conservation of forest and wildlife resources are concerned.
(ii) Protected Forests:
Almost one-third of the total forest area is protected forest, as declared
by the Forest Department. This forest land are protected from any further depletion
(iii) Unclassed Forests:
These are other forests and wastelands belonging to both government and private individuals and communities.
Reserved and protected forests are also referred to as permanent forest estates maintained for the purpose of producing timber and other forest produce, and for protective reasons.
The clear lesson from the dynamics of both environmental destruction and reconstruction in Pakistan is that local communities everywhere
have to be involved in some kind of natural resource management. But there is still a long way to go before local communities are at the
centre-stage in decision-making. Accept only those economic or developmental activities, that are people centric, environment-friendly
and economically rewarding.
Engr. Shoaib Awan
"Always have the DETERMINATION like a MIRROR, who NEVER loses its ABILITY to Reflect back Even if BROKEN into THOUSAND pieces" BE DETERMINED.........