Riverine forests fast disappearing

The Centre for Environment and Development (CEAD) said on Sunday that riverine forests were disappearing rapidly because of reduced flow of water, unchecked practice of illegally cutting down trees and encroachment upon forest lands. The CEAD office-bearers said in a statement that the entire world was advocating increase in forest cover to face the growing threat of climatic change but unfortunately in Pakistan, forests did not receive much attention. They said that forests were significant for the survival of humanity. In Sindh, forests covered only 2.5 per cent of the total land area and were entirely dependent on monsoon floods in riverine tract and canal water in mainland area, they said. According to recent reports, trees were disappearing due to shortage of irrigation water, arid climatic condition and illegal clearing of forest land, they said. The impact of deforestation included soil depletion, loss of soil fertility, reduction in recharge of aquifer, enhanced sedimentation, lowering of water table, loss of biodiversity and loss of ecosystem, they said. They said that the forests in the areas below Kotri Barrage were the worst affected where many had been cleared of any vegetation and turned virtually unproductive. They said that some time ago, many forests in Kachho area were cut down on the pretext of security fears while the root cause of law and order problem remained unaddressed even this day. They urged people of the area as well as civil society organisations to help protect forests and hoped that the Sindh Forest Department would ensure that all the encroachments were removed, existing forest area was protected and efforts were made to bring further area under forests. Trees helped control soil erosion, check run-off, reduce desiccation of crops, add favourable nutrients to soil, improve physical and chemical properties of soil and enhance rate of biological processes, the CEAD officials said.

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