FOREST cover in Pakistan, particularly in Sindh, is shrinking at an alarming rate.
In 1947, Sindh had at least 80 forests right from Kashmore to Karachi, spread over an area of 500 square miles on both sides of River Indus.
Presently, 90 per cent of forests are either under unauthorised possession or leased to local influential people like waderas on nominal government rates as katcha land.
According to a report in a local daily, 966 acres of fertile forest land located in Setharja, has been recently leased out to a local influential landlord for peanuts.
The zamindar has recovered more than he had paid to the government by cutting and selling hundreds of mature trees standing on the land.
The local people not only approached the minister concerned but also filed a compliant with the Anti-Corruption in Sindh.
Besides, they took out processions against the blatant lease.
Yet, unfortunately, nothing came out of it and the deal was finalised.
Forests influence climate mainly by absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide.
When forests grow, wood, leaves and soil absorb atmospheric carbon. Because of the forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon, they are considered carbon sinks.
Deforestation insidiously strangles all life support systems on earth and has serious consequences for all ecosystems and biodiversity.
If the present regime is concerned about the well-being of the province and its inhabitants then it must act and punish those who have leased out valuable forest land to some influentials without realising the gravity of the deforestation situation.
Moreover, illegally allotted forest land should also be recovered and given back to the forest department for the purpose of forestation without further loss of time.
MUHAMMAD ALI DEEPLAI Hyderabad