Islamabad    -  State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul on Thursday said promoting energy saving stoves among fuelwood dependent households is must for cut in forest loss and air pollution.

“Empowering forest communities with alternative and efficient energy sources and energy saving cooking stoves for meeting daily cooking and heating needs can significantly help cut soaring pressure on the country’s forest resources,” the minister told participants of a ceremony held for distribution of 500 energy efficient cooking stoves in Chawan forest area of the Karore valley, some 40km from here.

Zartaj Gul distributed 100 energy saving cooking stoves among poor and deserving households from Kalar Syedan and Kahuta forest areas of the Rawalpindi district under the UN Development Programme’s Sustainable Forest Management Project and Global Environmental Facility as a part of the government’s efforts to cut forest loss. State minister told participants that the energy efficient stoves are known for burning around 50 per cent less fuelwood and help mitigate indoor air pollution and related health hazards that kill thousands annually in the country.

However, she hoped, “the distribution of energy saving and efficient cooking stoves among the forest communities would not only reduce fuel wood collection burden of households but also lead to improvement in their health and cut forest loss.”

With growing population and soaring demand for fuelwood, the country’s forest areas are under mounting pressure and fast shrinking, she noted. 

Referring to various international studies on state of forests in Pakistan, Gul said that current estimates suggest that the country’s forests are being cleared at a rate of 40,000 hectares (ha) per annum, over 60 per cent of which is used as fuelwood.