Experts have often related the fall and decline of past civilisations to environmental degradation resulting from deforestation. If that is the opinion of the experts, then Pakistan should fear for its survival. In one of its recent judgements, the Lahore High Court (LHC) notes that the rate with which deforestation is happening in Pakistan is the world’s highest. This finding is alarming for all of us.

Studies reveal that over the last few years, climatic conditions are rapidly changing. Abnormal fluctuations in temperature, severe heat waves, and dry spells of weather even in areas that once had mild weather are the direct consequences of deforestation, according to experts.

There is no denying that the forests have many intangible benefits that trump the tangible value of products of the forestry sector. Despite knowing this fact, the state has failed to inculcate the sense of ownership of forests in people. According to a UNDP report, the forest area in Pakistan has shrunk to 1.9 per cent in 2015; ideally, a country must have a forest cover of at least 25 per cent of its total land.

Though the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government thinks of climate change as one of the most formidable challenges that Pakistan is facing, the government’s afforestation drives are proving insufficient in this regard. This means that the present mechanism of forests’ protection needs upgrading. Apart from devising just strict forest protection and plantation policy, the state needs to allocate enough resources for afforestation in the annual national budget.

Also, the government need to aware people regarding the significance of preserving forests through rigorous campaigns. Moreover, the state should incentivise people living near forests to protect these gifts of nature. Incentivising people will help in countering the human factors responsible for deforestation. However, the state also needs to take steps to deal with the natural factors that affect forests.