LAHORE: South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC) in collaboration with the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) organized an inception seminar at LCCI, to sensitize the potential investors about the business opportunities in the forestry sector.

The seminar began with a welcome address by Abdul Basit, President, LCCI, who thanked the participants and urged the business community to invest in the forestry sector for a sustainable future. According to him, ‘Forest-based investments can lead to tremendous growth and create opportunities that are essential for competing in an interconnected world. The chamber will play its role in promoting this idea and advocates any policy solutions that drive economic growth, spur innovation and create jobs.’

It was followed by a presentation delivered by Tahir Rasheed, CEO, SPFC, on Investment Opportunities in Forestry Sector in South Punjab. He informed the participants about the eco-regions of Pakistan and quoted the 2015 study by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), according to which, Pakistan has a total area of 1,472,000 hectares (ha) and witnessing deforestation, at an alarming rate of 2.1 per cent from 1990 to 2015 on an average.

According to Tahir Rasheed, ‘SPFC aims to afforest the 134,995 acres of allotted land in D.G. Khan and Bahawalpur Civil Divisions, which comes under Punjab Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Department. By promoting commercial forestry in the area, green jobs in rural areas will be created and logging pressure on existing forests will be reduced.’

Tahir Rasheed further informed, ‘Sustainable forestry investments offer low risk with high returns. The sustainably farmed wood can be supplied to the national wood-based industry, which will subsequently reduce dependence on imported wood, eventually reducing the budget deficit.’

The presentation was followed by Q&A session. The LCCI members questioned if the SPFC land may face any threats from the timber mafia. It was responded by Tahir Rasheed, who fully assured that SPFC will ensure that the land is free from any encroachments and timber mafia.

The seminar also aimed to incorporate the views of LCCI representatives to make the process inclusive, which can be incorporated in the upcoming feasibility study.

Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan, Vice President, LCCI, gave the concluding remarks and hoped that the initiative will help to bring a green revolution in the province and contribute to the GDP.

About South Punjab Forest Company (SPFC)

SPFC is a Punjab Government entity, established as a Public Sector Company, under section 42 of the Companies Ordinance, 1984. It aims to stimulate private sector investments alongside public money to reduce deforestation in Punjab and to combine forest conservation with sustainable economic development. The investment objective of the company is to encourage the investment in assets that can be established and managed on an environmentally and socially sustainable basis.

SPFC aims to achieve SDGs Goal 15 ‘Life on land’, which focuses on managing forests sustainably, restoring degraded lands and combating desertification etc.

SPFC’s business philosophy has three thematic pillars:-

  • Social and environmental sustainability
  • A balanced portfolio of wood fibre end-uses
  • Cost and quality competitive projects

The company believes that this approach will generate both long-term capital appreciation for partners and an attractive and sustainable income yield. In future, the SPFC will seek to invest in forestry projects that are or will be certified by a reputable forest management certification scheme.