LAHORE - LCCI on Monday welcomed Prime Minister's 'Clean and Green Pakistan ' initiative, terming it a step in the right direction that would prove to be a big success. LCCI President Almas Hyder, SVP Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Vice President Fahim-ur-Rehman Sehgal said here that Prime Minister Imran Khan's decision to start Clean and Green Pakistan drive would go a long way in the conservation of environment. They said that Pakistan was one of those countries where forest area was squeezing fast and causing immense economic and environmental loss to the country. Pakistan ranked at 79th with around one percent area under-forest while Russia was at first with over 49pc and India at 10th with 23pc forest area. Deforestation in Pakistan seemed small but actually was a big issue as it was not only leaving adverse impact on the environment but also hitting the economy hard for which government, private sector and all segments of society should join hands to tackle the issue of shrinking forests in Pakistan.

LCCI office-bearers were of the view that forests were not only safeguarding biodiversity and a shield against climate changes but also equally important for the economic safety of the country. They said that timber production, processing and the pulp and paper industries accounts over one percent of the global gross domestic product.

They continued that forests also resisted devastating floods, besides being a major source of fresh water, medicine, shelter and employment for the people. Unfortunately, forestation was one of the most neglected areas and there was a dire need to make joint efforts to protect and enhance forests through public-private partnership.

They said that considering the available facts and figures, the potential for new investment in forestry was very much significant. Currently, local industry such as paper and furniture wes experiencing serious supply-shocks which were not only impeding their further growth and but also slashing their international competitiveness.

They urged the government to make long-term arrangements for attracting huge investment and also provide incentives for advanced forest management technologies. They said that all city-district governments should earmark certain percentage of land in their areas for forestation.