IN THIS WEEK’S ISSUE

Pakistan cut 50,000 trees for election ballot!

Syed Azam

Experts dismissed the allegations of environmentalists

A group of environmental activists claimed that 49,600 trees were cut down for ballots used in Pakistan’s recent elections. According to them, 2,170 tonnes of paper was required for ballots and other documents. Pakistan Tribune reported this information in a report on Monday (February 12).

The media also reported that the experts dismissed such allegations of environmental activists. According to them, Pakistan does not produce paper, it imports it. This time they recycled the paper and cardboard used for the election.

800 tons of paper was used to print the ballot in Pakistan in 2018 election. This time, the Election Commission (ECP) estimated that two thousand 170 tons of paper may be required.

Environmental expert Dr. Usman Ali said that almost no paper is produced in Pakistan. There is a lack of infrastructure and raw materials needed to set up such industries. According to him, Pakistan imported the product because cypress trees are needed to make good quality paper.

Dr. Usman Ali said, a country should have 25 percent forest land. But Pakistan has less than 4 percent forest cover. So if 2,170 tons of paper were used to print the ballot, then about 70,000 trees would have to be cut down.

He said, whether trees are cut in Pakistan or in other countries, the reality is that the forest area is decreasing in the world. In this sense, Pakistan is also contributing to carbon emissions. Under Vision 2030, the country has to control carbon emissions.

In the 2018 elections in Pakistan, some political parties proposed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) instead of paper ballots. This method uses less paper. But the proposal was rejected even though this method had the opportunity to complete the vote counting process on time.

Deforestation continues

According to a recent study by the Institute of Development Economics (PIDE), Pakistan has lost 20 percent of its forest cover in the last two decades. The study revealed that about 27,000 hectares of forests are being deforested in the country every year due to population growth, increasing urbanization and shortage of energy like gas.

According to PIDE, Pakistan has the lowest deforestation rate in the world. However, in South Asia, private ownership of forest land is highest in Pakistan and Bangladesh (36 and 34 percent respectively). Pakistan is one of the countries in the world with less than 1 billion trees.

The study also says that there are 1,131 trees per square kilometer in Pakistan. There are only five per person, which is not appropriate for sustainable development, where 900 trees are needed per person.

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