Timber Mafia in KP & AJK– Critical Analysis

INTRODUCTION

Deforestation is one of the most alarming environmental problems of today. So far about one-third[1] size of the original forests have disappeared. Despite of the intensive efforts made by all the stakeholders including the local community to stop this process, deforestation is still continuing in most parts of the world which results in serious consequences which inter-alia includes environmental problems, livelihoods issues, global climate change and degradation of ecological system.

Pakistan is also faced with the menace of deforestation. The forests reserves are depleting at very fast rate. About 39000 hectares (ha) of forest area is cleared every year[2]. It is estimated that if the deforestation continues with this alarming pace then Pakistan will lose most of its forests reserves within next forty to fifty years. Pakistan with very small forests reserves which occupy less than 5% of the total land area[3], requires immediate safeguard of its forest resources.

Forest management in Pakistan is faced with many pressures in shape of 200 million high  population for meeting their day to day needs[4], or from market forces which have seen very high timber prices in last decade. The Provincial Forest Departments are not well equipped to face these major challenges. It lacks technical expertise, human resource and financial resources to cope with such challenges.

The planners relate forest degradation with over population. Moreover the local population has also an unwarranted behavior towards the forests and they use in very unsustainable manner. The policy makers are trying to find ways and means to save forests from the vagaries of the local population and to strengthen government’s writ over it[5].

By relating the causes of deforestation with the needs of the increasing population and by market forces the government wants to shun its responsibility and failure on its part to protect the forests. In Pakistan majority of the forests are managed and owned by the state, and responsibility also vests with the state to safeguard them. Therefore, any inquiry to find the main causes of forest’s degradation be analyzed in terms of the what the State’s role is in it. Shifting the burden on ‘other factors’ shifts attention from the primary causes such as involvement of the government machinery, and it leads to wrong policy conclusions. In this research paper, its intended to bring about important factors behind deforestation and to find out the role of government functionaries in forest degradation in Pakistan.

Statement of the Problem

The timber mafia in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu & Kashmir are not operating alone and there are some groups with vested interests that are supporting the timber mafia. Through this research paper possible nexus between the two will be established with the view to find out the reasons for this collusion and recommendations to put some checks on that heinous crime.

Significance and Scope of the Study

Forests have significant importance in national economy. Moreover, forests also provides shield against natural vagaries such as soilification, flash floods and also plays an important role in adequate level of precipitation. Because of increasing trend in illegal logging i.e. illegal felling of the trees for commercial purpose by the un-scrupulous elements known as “Timber Mafia” there is an immense need to find out what reasons are responsible for the increasing operation of these vested groups.

The public functionaries, no matter whether they are public’s representatives, local politicians or the public servants, their prime responsibility is to safeguard the interests of the state and for that to make useful policies and to implement those policies in letter and spirit. It is important to find out what their role is and how effectively and efficiently they are safeguarding the interests of the State and to also see whether a possible nexus exists between those who are responsible for implementation of law and those who on the other hand are breaking the law.

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