Islamabad: The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ordered the Punjab government, the Defence Housing Authority (DHA), the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), and other housing authorities to devise a comprehensive policy for plantation and protection of trees, a news source reported.
The court directives came in the wake of a report which referred to the deforestation rate in the country as world’s highest. As per the report, Pakistan’s deforestation rate is estimated between 0.2-0.5 % annually that accounts for the 4-6% annual decline in wood biomass; reducing the natural forest cover from 3.59 to 3.32 million hectares.
The LHC stated that the natural resources were dwindling at an alarming rate and if the source report by the National Environment Information System (NEIMS) was to be believed, the natural forests would be consumed within the next five years.
The verdict also read that intangible benefits (oxygen, watershed, ecosystem synergism) of the forestation were eight times greater than the tangible value of any products and services derived from the forestry sector.
Moreover, the LHC ordered the Punjab government, the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) and other departments to impose fines and penalties on officials and citizens found cutting, removing and damaging of tress. The court also directed development and housing authorities to make and adopt policies similar to the ‘Urban Plantation Policy’ to encourage plantation cover in cities. The court orders also dictated for authorities to immediately launch the planation to address the impacts of deforestation.