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Regional Workshop on Forests and Climate Change: Preparing for Decisions on Land Use & Forestry at cop9

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Regional Workshop on Forests and Climate

Change: Preparing for Decisions on Land Use &

Forestry at COP9

16 – 17 October 2003, Traders Hotel, Manila,


Pakistan Report

The views expressed in this paper are the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect

the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), or its Board of Directors or the

governments they represent. ADB makes no representation concerning and does not

guarantee the source, originality, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any statement,

information, data, finding, interpretation, advice, opinion, or view presented.


1. Introduction

Pakistan lies between 24° and 37° north latitudes and 61° and 75° east longitudes. It is

located in a region where three important mountain ranges meet. The mountain ranges are

the Himalaya, Hindukush and Karakorum. The lessor Himalayan ranges and Hindukush

ranges extend deep into the country and form huge complex of mountains and plateau.

Accordingly 4 out of 10 highest peaks in the world lie in Pakistan. Physiographically,

Pakistan can be divided broadly into two main regions namely plains of the Indus River

and its tributaries and huge complex of mountains and plateaus lying in north and

northwestern boundaries. The plains are more or less level consisting mostly of irrigated

agriculture and arid, semi-arid deserts. The mountain complex consists of broad valleys,

partly irrigated and high steep and rugged mountains and plateaus. About 60 percent area

of Pakistan is covered by mountainous complex (Sardar, 1989).
More than 60 percent area of Pakistan is arid and receives less than 250mm rainfall per

annum. About 20 percent area is semi-arid where rainfall varies between 250-400 mm per

annum. In these zones temperature rises steeply during summer and drops sharply in

winter giving rise to great variations in diurnal temperature. Subsequently the arid and

semi-arid parts of the country are characterized by low precipitation, extreme temperatures

and low humidity. These conditions are inhospitable to good plant growth. There are

frequent droughts and the plant growth fluctuates greatly with precipitation (Sardar, 2002).
2. Climate of Pakistan

The geographic location and the phsiographic factors are the major causes of diversity in

the climate. These factors affect and modify precipitation and temperatures. Based on these

factors the climate of the country has been classified into 4 major climatic regions. These

include (i) Marine Tropical Coastland, (ii) Sub Tropical Continental Lowlands, (iii) Sub

Tropical Continental Highlands and (iv) Sub Tropical Continental Plateau (Desert).

(Sheikh and Hafeez, 1977). Khan (1993) has classified the country into 11 distinct as well

as over lapping climatic zones.

The climate of the Pakistan is diverse and characterized by mild, moist winters and hot, dry

summers in the north to semi arid and arid zones in the west and parts of the south. The

part of northeastern mountainous and sub mountainous areas receives more than 1700 mm

precipitation mostly in summer monsoon. The arid plains of southwest Balochistan receive

only about 30 mm during whole year. Thermal regimes indicate extreme diurnal, seasonal

and annual variations. Temperature may fall as low as -26°C in the north to as high as

52°C in the central arid plains. In the semi-arid plains, temperature up to 42°C is also

recorded at various stations.

3. Extent of forests

Pakistan has meager forest resources. The country due to its sharp climatic variations and

arid conditions lacks reasonable tree cover. There is hardly 4.28 million hectares or 4.9

percent of total area forest / tree cover. Out of it the productive forests are less than 2%

(Amjad et al. 1996). The vegetation type-wise forest cover is given in Table 1.

Table 1: Summary of the estimates of forest/tree area
Forest Cover/Land NWFP Punjab Sindh Balo-

(Thousand hectares)

Northern Azad


Use class

1. Forest/Tree Cover




1.1 Conifer






241 1913

1.2 Irrigated plantations

1.3 Riverain



79 23

27 112





- 103

1 173

1.4 Scrub






16 1191

1.5 Mangrove


- 205



- 207

1.6 Linear plantations






- 16

1.7 Farmland trees

1.8 Miscellaneous


Total Area:




306 54

20 5

608 399







7 466

10 155

275 4224

2. Geographic area 10174 20626 14091


7040 1330


2.1 Percent (%) tree cover


2.9 2.8



20.7 4.8

Source: Forestry Sector Master Plan (FSMP), 1992
4. Forest/Vegetation types

The distribution of forests / vegetation types is primarily controlled by the climatic and

edaphic factors. Starting from alpine zones in the north to the coastal belt of Arabian Sea in

the south there are 11 types in the country. Sheikh and Hafeez (1977) have described in

detail the Forest Types of Pakistan. A very brief description is as under:
4.1 Alpine Scrub

The deciduous and small leaved shrubs including evergreen junipers and sometimes

Rhododendron and Ephedera are found. Dwarf prostrate Salix spp. are also present. A

good herbaceous flora is met with. The characteristic generas are Salix, Lonicera, Berberis,

Cotoneaster, Juniperous, Rhododendron and Ephedera. This type is located above 3800

meters elevation above sea level (asl).

4.2 Sub Alpine Forests

Abies pindro and Pinus wallichiana trees in groups with irregular dense lower storey of

broad leaved trees are found. Betula is typically prominent at the higher elevation in

depressions. This is the top most tree formation in the Himalayas which is found between

3350-3800 meters elevation asl.

4.3 Dry Temperate Forests

The vegetation, as a whole, is xerophytic. The aromatic shrubs namely; Artemisia and

some thorny species of Caragana, Prunus and Rosa are pre-dominant. The forests consists

of Conifers mostly having Cedrus deodara, Pinus gerardiana and Juniperus macropoda.

Quercus ilex, Pinus wallichiana, Pecea smithiana are also present. Broad leaved trees may

include Fraxinus and Acer. Shrubs include Daphne, Lonicera, Prunus, Artemisia,

Astragalus and Ephedra.

4.4 Himalayan Moist Temperate Forests

Major Conifer species are Pinus wallichiana, Cedrus deodara, Picea smithiana and Abies

pindrow, Taxus buccata also occurs. The broad leaved tree species include Quercus,

Rhododendron, Acer, Aesculus, Prunus, Ulmus, Fraxinus, Corylus and Alnus.
4.5 Sub Tropical Pine Forests

This type consists of pure Pinus roxhurghii. Other species found include Quercus,

Rhododendron and Lyonia ovalifolia in depression. Pistacia, Syzygium, Mallotus,

Xylosoma, Pyrus and many shrubs are also found.
4.6 Dry Sub Tropical Broad Leaved Forests

The characteristic tree species of this type are Olea ferruginea and Acacia modesta.

Pistacia and Punica are also met with. The unpalatable shrubs include Dodonaea,

Withania and Rhazya and thorny species like Gymnosporia, Monotheca and Carissa are

also associated.

4.7 Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests

This type is limited to the Himalayan foothills and adjoining Siwalik hills. These are

deciduous tree species and include generas like Lannea, Salmalia, Sterculia, Flacouria,

mallotus and Acacia.
4.8 Tropical Thorn Forests

Acacia and Prosopis are strongly represented tree species of this type. There are several

generas of shrubs: notable are Suaeda, Salsola, Haloxvlon. Calotropis and Periploca.

Some of the generas of typical desert are Capparis, Zizyphus and Salvadora.
4.9 Irrigated Forests

These forests are man-made irrigated plantations. Dalbergia sissoo as upper storey and

Morus alba as under storey are grown in Punjab and Acacia arabica in Sindh. Other tree

species namely Salmalia and Melia are also planted.

4.10 Indus Innudation (Riverian) Forests

This forest type predominantly consists of Acacia arabica with scattered tree species like

Populus euphratica and Prosopis spicigera on the drier parts. These forests are mostly

found along the bank of Indus River.

4.11 Tropical Littoral and Swamp Forests

These tidal forests are found in Indus delta in the southwestern part of the country. The

main species are Avicennia officinalis and Bruguiera conjugata. These forests provide

habitats to various aquatic animal species and is of economic importance to the country.

5. Climate change impact

The indepth and precise information on climate change impact on forests has, so far, not

been collected in Pakistan. The GOP, through Hagler Bailly Pakistan (2001) has got

prepared a report titled “Pakistan Initial National Communication to the UNFCCC” which

evaluates qualitative changes in the forests. The report indicated that there would be a shift

in the location of the different biomass under the change in precipitation scenario. Further

the cold and temperate conifers may shift towards north pushing against the cold conifers

mixed woodlands which in turn will encroach upon the southern and lower edges of the

alpine tundra. Further study has revealed that the increase in the size of the biomass of

economic values and decrease in size of biomass of degraded vegetation/scrub may occur.

There is need that the impact of climate change on forests of Pakistan be scientifically

evaluated using standard methodology. This is only possible when the international

sponsoring agencies provide financial and technical support to the research organizations

in Pakistan.

6. Mitigation/adoption options

The Hagler Bailly report (2001) had suggested the following mitigation and adoption

options to impede the effect of climate change:
6.1 Mitigation







Agroforestry practices

Plantation on agricultural land

Protection of conifer forests

Reforestation in conifer forests

Watershed plantation

Reforestation in riverain forests

vii) Vegetation improvement on rangelands.
6.2 Adoption







Control of forest

Pest control

Change in species and variations

Preservation of watershed and rangelands

Control of wastage

Conservation of coastal zone

The activities mentioned above, had to be carried out in the existing forests, watershed and

rangeland areas, would require large scale plantations with indigenous as well as adapted

exotic species to improve cover. There is need to rehabilitate, improve and develop the

existing forests to impede the impact of climate change. These activities would require

strong technical and financial support of the international sponsoring agencies. Since trees

have very long gestation period to establish themselves so the projects covering a period

not less than 15 years would be appropriate.







B.H. Shah and S.M. Rafique. (1989). Proceeding of Regional Seminar: Affecting

Range and Pastureland Development in Himalayan Region held under RAS/79/121

FAO Regional Project from 19-26 November 1989 at Pakistan Forest Institute,

Peshawar. Paper: Rangelands of Pakistan: Their Potential for Development. PP.

Hagler Bailly. (2001). Pakistan’s Initial National Communication to the UNFCCC,

Draft Final Report.

Khan, Jamil Ahmed. (1993). The Climate of Pakistan. Rehbar Publishers,

Mohammad Amjad, Nadir Khan and Hakim Shah. (1996). Forestry Statistics of

Pakistan. Pakistan Forest Institute, Peshawar. PP.32.
Sardar, M. Rafique (2001). Range Management in Arid Zone. Pakistan Forest

Institute, Peshawar. PP.12 (unpublished).

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