Hej alla, här kommer ett gästblogginlägg från Shah Khalid Shah Jee som är miljöjournalist i Pakistan och även lokal kontaktperson för implementeringen av REDD+ i stamområden i Pakistan. Trevlig läsning!
By: Shah Khalid Shah Jee
In the past several years, various measures have been taken by developed countries to mitigate and avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. To achieve this goal, the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) was held in Paris on 30 December 2015, gathering all the worlds countries. The main focus of this conference was on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, especially carbon dioxide -which is the main reason for the increase in temperature. All the attending countries signed a treaty at the conference called the Paris Agreement. This agreement also included the Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) program.
REDD+ is a program dealing with environmental protection projects. Under this program, developing countries are required to reduce greenhouse gases and especially carbon emissions. The REDD+ program was introduced at COP11 in 2005 by Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea. The program got renewed attention at COP13 where the plus (+) was added. The program has been part of every following COP program since. Its inclusion at the Paris Conference emphasised that the program should now be put into practice. At present, deforestation is occurring in most developing countries. However, the proportion of deforestation in general in Pakistan and in our tribal districts in particular is high, and according to environmental experts affecting 17% to 29% of the atmosphere. Deforestation is the reason for the increase in greenhouse gases because forests play an important role in keeping the atmosphere clean. Thus, the purpose of the REDD+ program is to prevent the increase of 17% to 29% of greenhouse gases, increase the forest area, and prevent the erosion of the existing forest. The question now is when and how this program will be implemented in Pakistan.
During a special meeting with District Bajaur Divisional Forest Officer and Focal Person of the REDD+ Program for Tribal Districts Hayat Ali, he explained what the participating countries had agreed upon during the conference. All countries in the world are in these negotiations divided into two groups of countries, developed and developing. The developed countries countries have destroyed many of their natural resources and have done significant damage in their own countries as well as in former colonies. But so have many of the developing countries negatively impacted its own natural resources as well. The developed countries, however, have implemented controls on greenhouse gases, but in developing countries the problem is becoming more serious and these countries are now at greater risk. In order to help the developing countries prevent more environmental damage, it was decided to implement the REDD+ program, under which developed countries have established a fund called the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Green Environmental Facilities (GEF).
The GCF will fund developing countries including Pakistan to implement the REDD+ program. Prior to the implementation of this program, it is necessary for each country to finalise an action plan for the REDD+ program at a national level. Four steps must be taken. For the last three years, our Climate Change Ministry has been working on this project called the REDD+ Preparedness Project (RPP) with help from the World Bank. Under this project, the ministry is working on implementing; (1) REDD+ Frame Work and Strategy; (2) National Forest Monitoring System and Measurement Reporting and Verification System; (3) Forest Emission Levels (FRELS); and the (4) Grievances Redresses Mechanism.
It is very important that all four areas are included in the process. It is also very important that Pakistan is aware of the extent of the country’s current carbon emissions and absorption levels. The implementation of the Grievances Redresses Mechanism is meant to protect the rights of forest owners, ensuring that the country protects them. Some harvests will be banned so it is essential to protect the rights of the local people. Under this program countries have to define what a forest is. Pakistan has defined a forest as an area of 5 hectares or larger with trees that cover at least 10% of the area and where the trees are 2 meters tall or larger -even if the rest of the area is empty. These four basic conditions are being worked on and focal personnel have been appointed in all seven units of Pakistan. I am the focal person on behalf of the tribal districts, and in view of the importance of this program, we have collected the information we need for it at the tribal district level to the national Ministry of Climate Change.
Now the program is in its final stages and when it is finalised, it will be presented to the Stearns Committee. Once approved, Pakistan will be eligible for the REDD+ program. The next steps will take two to three years until the first phase is completed. After that, the second phase will begin and will be implemented in four to five years here in specific areas of Pakistan on a pilot basis. After the pilot program ends, the second phase will be implemented throughout the country. This is very important for Pakistan because it ranks seventh among the countries most affected by the effects of climate change.
Natural forests in the tribal districts as well as forests that have been planted make up a considerable area of Bajaur and the tribal areas in general. Forestry is very important for all the tribal districts and especially Bajaur, which is the most forested area. Most of Pakistan’s tribal districts depend on their natural resources, including the forests, which the people need to provide for their families. Because of the great importance of the forests, we are taking steps to address this issue in general and in particular in the tribal districts. The forestry department as well as the local community, forest owners and journalists are all involved. I organised a workshop to teach the local people about the REDD+ program and how it can help Bajaur. A complaint resolution committee has also been set up for the tribal districts, which includes people from different backgrounds, including women, and has held meetings with the Committee on the Ministry of Climate Change. Like REDD+, we talked about the program in more detail, but one thing that we emphasised is its importance to tribal districts and Bajaur and what it means to have this program in the district.
People are concerned that the REDD+ program will prevent them from harvesting the forests in order to meet their household needs and earn money. The program will allow the dry wood that has fallen from the trees to be given to the local people so they will still be able to use forest resources without feeling that their rights have been violated. So the REDD+ program will protect forests as well as promote cleanliness through the removal of dry trees. There will also be new plantings in existing forests under the REDD+ program. I will continue to plant as well. The implementation of this program will gradually bring many benefits to our community but it will take some time.