The floods in Pakistan is unequivocally a grim environmental disaster. Have you asked yourself what, apart from climate change, could be one of the main reasons for the flood to have such a monstrous impact?
Digging deeper into the conundrum, I found a very interesting article about floods in Pakistan.
As you might know, there are bad and good people in every country, and yes, there is corruption worldwide as well – everywhere. It just exists under different names.
It is up to individual governments to curb the impact of those practices or at least to make them less obvious or responsible for a damaged environment. In Pakistan, however, the picture looks a little different.
Floods in Pakistan and Corruption
According to Ali Habib, director general with the World Wide Fund for Nature, there is a direct link between deforestation in Pakistan and the massive floods sweeping the country. Trees dramatically diminish the intensity of the thrust of initial peaks of flood.
Flood waters could easily cover approximately one-fifth of the country.
The direct link between Pakistan’s timber mafia and the country’s deforestation is clear. The government regularly took bribes from the timber mafia in exchange for permits to fell trees.
The outcome is that forests have been “ruthlessly exploited”. Law enforcement agencies, politicians and bureaucrats – everyone cares for their own vested interests, according to a Pakistani journalist.
Hence, when torrential rains hit Pakistan, the force of the runoff from the country’s tree-barren mountains propelled the logs. They in turn turned into instruments of destruction that smashed everything in their path, the journalist added.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that 80 million trees had been cut down. And that – in the so-called protected Khebrani and Rais Mureed Forest in the three years leading up to this summer’s floods.
During that 36-month period, the forest had been reduced from nearly 20 square miles to barely 3 square miles!
“The government is promoting ‘Green Pakistan’ even as trees continue to be slaughtered across the country in the name of “development”. The timber mafia is denuding the country’s woodlands. Unfortunately, the situation is desperate and is deteriorating by the day,” a Dawn editorial said.
Pakistani government figures show that about 4.1 percent of the country’s land mass is forest. The current rate of deforestation, however, is 2 to 2.4 percent. If this continues, Pakistan’s forest cover would decrease to half of its 1995 extent by 2019-24, says UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Tahir Qureshi, a Pakistan-based forestry expert for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature said that in 1947, when Pakistan gained independence from Britain, riverine forests had lined the banks of the Indus River. “These forests used to absorb the ferocity of the flood waters,” he said.
Further, Qureshi said the riverine forests had been the first line of defense against floods. The same floods that have deluged the plains annually for thousands of years. Naturally, as rainwater gets trapped in leaves, branches and roots, forests serve to slow the flow of floodwater.
Deforested areas, on the contrary, logically become more prone to flooding and landslides. Hence, floods in Pakistan are becoming more and more common and more and more extreme.
In the end who is the victim: the ordinary Joe. What a shame.
It is likely that unfortunately we will see similar events in other countries in the future as well. Human nature is mostly reactive, not proactive.
We are also the only creature that cuts the branch on which it sits.