Ban on timber transportation may go in a week

PESHAWAR, Jan 8: Delay in the lifting of ban on the transportation of timber from Malakand and Hazara divisions is likely to cause Rs.6 billion loss to the KP government and the royalty holders.

The provincial government had banned the transportation of timber in 2013 and millions of cubic feet timber have been lying along the roads and in forests since then. Special assistant to the chief minister on environment Mohammad Ishtiaq said the government was likely to lift a ban on the transportation of timber within a week. He said a policy was being worked out to allow scientific harvesting of trees uprooted by strong winds.

The data compiled by the forest department showed that 2,246,665 cubic feet timber had been dumped in the open in Malakand and 2,387,836 cubic feet in Hazara. Market value of the dumped timber in both regions is Rs6.05 billion but the delay in its transportation could adversely affect its market value as well as quality. The officials said 40 per cent share of the total amount went to the provincial government and 60 per cent to the local forest communities.

Communities in Malakand and Hazara divisions are largely dependents on forests. According to details, 1,039,571 cubic feet timber has been dumped along the roads and 2,387,836 cubicfeet timber has been lying in forests in Hazara division. In 2003, the provincial government had lifted a ban on the windfall and dry trees in Malakand and Hazara divisions, which are two of the main timber producing areas. After lifting the ban, tenders were floated after marking of windfall and dry trees in forest covered areas of Hazara Division.

Proper marking of trees could not be carried out in central southern forest region of the province, however. Awami National Party MPA from Swat Syed Jafar Shah said that millions of cubic feet timber had already wasted due to prolong ban on harvesting of mature trees. He said that local communities had suffered due to indecisiveness on the part of the government. He said the forest department was also in favour of transportation and disposal of the timber dumped alongthe roads andinforests,but provincial cabinet could not take final decision.

The ban was imposed on the harvesting of all type of forests including windfall trees about two decades ago in the wake of flash floods in 1993. However the government reviewed its policy and allowed removal of dry and windfall trees in 2003. Marking of dry and windfall trees in forests was Ofñcialssaid thatcondition ofthe dumped timber was deteriorating with every passing day as the timber was lying under the open sky and exposed to the vagaries of weather.

The quality deterioration would also lead to cut in the market price of the timber, which would inflict huge losses to the government and the timber owners. Besides, the timber was also exposed to thieves and other natural calamities like floods, which would waste the precious timber.–Dawn

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