According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, 2.2% or about 1,687,000 ha of Pakistan is forested. Pakistan has 340,000 ha of planted forest. And that has been declining rapidly.
Between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan lost an average of 42,000 ha or 1.66% per year. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan lost 33.2% of its forest cover or around 840,000 ha.
Pakistan's forests contain 213 million metric tons of carbon in living forest biomass. It boasts some 1027 known species of amphibians, birds, mammals and reptiles according to figures from the World Conservation Monitoring Centre. Of these, 3.5% are endemic, meaning they exist in no other country, and 5.5% are threatened. Pakistan is home to at least 4950 species of vascular plants, of which 7.5% are endemic. 4.0% of Pakistan is protected under IUCN categories I-V.
Khurshid Ahmed, an environmentalist from Peshawar University, says most of the logs illegally cut from Pakistan's forests have been washed away by the recent high-speed rains that not only caused habitat damage but also hindered the smooth flow of rainwater in streams, canals and the rivers.
"The same logs, when taken along in the flood waters, blocked the low clearance of concrete bridges and diverted the flow of water from the main stream towards the nearby population," said Ahmed.
Illegal human encroachment onto river banks, and even into river beds, also hindered the flow of water, as did the houses built along the path by the river, which were blown away.
Pakistan lacks adequate resources and expertise for climate protection, and a number of experts have suggested the government seek assistance from the Green Climate Fund to implement climate change measures.
In August, the southern parts of the country received 270 percent above-normal monsoon rains. And in September, the monsoons rains were 1,170 percent above normal, says Dr. Qamar-uz-Zaman Chaudhry, Adviser Climate Affairs.
The Sindh province, where six million acres of land were inundated in current floods, had experienced severe drought conditions before the monsoon season and had not received any rainfall at all during the past 12 months.
After such drastic flooding almost 5.3 million – number of people affected by this year's rains, which began falling in late August.
300 – Estimated death toll in three months
370,000 people estimated to still be living in camps in Sindh.
200,000 – People made homeless.
1.7 million acres of arable land affected.
Government and relevant authorities need to take serious action to control the rate of deforestation. If this does not happen survival in Pakistan will become very difficult just as we see in most poor African countries.
Consider the example of Ethiopia, that has lost three-quarters of its remaining trees in the last twenty-five years. Forest cover is now down to just 3%. This land, the birthplace of all humanity, has grown barren. (It's the usual story: the greed of the former dictatorship; unwise land policies; the desperate poor cutting trees for fuel.) Since 1985, the year of the "Live Aid" concert, food production has declined by two-thirds, and twice as many Ethiopians are going hungry.
Naseem Sheikh lives in Lahore, Pakistan .