Exclusions in Afforestation Projects in Pakistan

Through a case study of the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project in Pakistan, this article shows how afforestation and forest conservation projects often lack in-depth understanding of community dynamics.

I was standing in the town centre of Jabori waiting for my host to arrive. Amir, 22, approached me and asked if I could give him some money. He said that he had been looking for work for the last three days without any success. He had no money to buy lunch. As we headed to a nearby hotel, he said he was herding his father’s flock and they had around 150 goats. In 2015, their landowner contracted with the forest department for tree plantation. Consequently, his family lost tenancy to that land and could not feed their herd anymore. They tried to get another plot of land, but it had become scarce as everyone wanted trees on their plots. Then, they tried to buy fodder from the market, but it was too expensive.

Before the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project (BTTAP), another option was using the (state-owned) reserve forests, but that is gone now because the government had revoked all rights of grazing, passage, or living in state-owned forests. Another possibility was to bribe local forest officials, so that they could get them fodder, but it would not be enough to raise a herd of 150 animals. Initially, they started selling goats to get money to buy fodder for the herd. But, eventually Amir’s father gave up the idea of keeping a herd and sold the entire herd. Amir stayed with his parents in Jabori and had started working as a construction labourer, although there was not much work available. His elder brother had moved to Mansehra (a nearby city), where he worked at his uncle’s shop. Their father was at home, taking care of the only cow left with them.

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Updated On : 22nd Mar, 2019

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