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Deforestation at peak: Action sought against timber mafia

KABUL: The National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) on Saturday expressed deep concern over illegal logging of forests by timber mafia and asked the government for concrete steps to protect the country’s invaluable forests.

NEPA’s Chief of Staff, Ezatullah Sediqi, said that timber mafia is actively busy in cutting forests in southern and eastern provinces. He said the timber is smuggled to the neighboring countries.

Speaking at a seminar in connection with the “International Day of Forests” he said that if the government did not address the issue then there would be no forest in next few decades. Sediqi added that illegal logging has put negative impact on resources and environment.

For Sediqi poor implementation of the law is major reason that encouraged the timber smugglers.

“There is law for forests’ protection, but it was not implemented properly due to insecurity and some other challenges. Unfortunately, we don’t have a comprehensive survey about the country’s forests. According to the Central Statistic Organization (CSO) report only three percent of the forests are recognized. However, the report is not fresh,” he said.

Regarding importance of the forests he said that forests are not only a good source of income for the locals but also keep environment clean and provide shelter to wildlife. Sediqi urged locals to protect forests in their areas.

He further said that NEPA and other relevant organizations have planned to plant saplings across the country to make Afghanistan green.

Incharge of the Khatiz Public Health Association (KPHA), Sayed Habib Arwal, said that based on report Afghanistan had 1.7 million hectares of forests, but one million hectares were destroyed during past 30 years due to conflicts and illegal cutting by mafia.

He said that illegal logging is still continued in the country because the government has failed to prevent the mafia from cutting forests.

Arwal asked the government to take the issue seriously and implement the relevant law in letter and spirit.

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