The Billion Tree Afforestation Project aims to slow down the effects of global warming in Pakistan. Image Credit: Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project

Islamabad: Pakistan has launched its first ever national forest monitoring system to curb illegal deforestation and degradation of land and to mitigate the effects of climate change.

The forest monitoring system through satellite data would help the country improve “conservation, sustainable management of forests, enhancement of forest carbon stocks and monitor changes in the forest land use and detect deforestation land degradation activities,” said Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Climate Change, Malik Amin Aslam.

Pakistan loses forests over 27,000 hectares annually which is not only a massive environmental issue but also a major public health crisis. “There has been large-scale deforestation and land degradation in the country over last several years” which shows there is a need for effective monitoring system to help detect logging operations in forest areas and natural habitats of outstanding significance or critical importance, in a matter of minutes, Aslam said. Digital tools can help perform fast, accurate and cost-effective assessments of the size and health of forests.

Monitoring of forest resources is pivotal for containing deforestation and forest land degradation and slowing down the global warming-induced climate crisis, experts say.

Forest monitoring components

· Satellite land monitoring systems (SLMS) and other data collection providing information for activity data

· National Forest Inventories (NFI) or other data collection providing information on emission factors

The monitoring system will be based on measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) functions which would help produce high-quality, reliable data on forests, including forest-carbon estimates, that are critical to the battle against climate change caused by among others deforestation and degradation of forests.

The system also involves a national monitoring web portal with a dedicated server hosted at Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC) with supported geodatabase of the forestry sector, said Climate Change Ministry Secretary Naheed Shah Durrani. “This portal is solely aimed to facilitate data integration at the national level and for international reporting and preparation of GHG inventory”, she said urging the provincial forest departments in conserving the fast depleting forest resources.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Climate Change jointly with the World Bank-supported $7.81 million reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) readiness project developed by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to boost forest cover.

10 billion tree tsunami

The first-ever national forest monitoring system has been launched under Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision for clean and green Pakistan to check unlawful deforestation and forest land degradation, to boost forest cover and tackle climate action.

Pakistan’s ambitious 10 billion tree plantation project has earned global recognition as the most successful green initiatives to combat climate change. In 2017, Pakistan’s provincial Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government successfully achieved the plantation target of one billion trees under the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project’ after which PM Imran Khan extended the project and announced to plant 10 billion trees countrywide by 2023 to increase the forest cover, create new green jobs and tackle climate change.