WWF-Pakistan Third-Party Monitoring of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Forest Department's BTAP
Posted on 1 February 2018
WWF-Pakistan entered the formal bidding process for and was awarded the consultancy for the third party monitoring of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Forest Department’s Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through a transparent process.
WWF-Pakistan carried out the monitoring of the afforestation project in two phases and findings were communicated through three reports to the KP Forest Department. The first report was submitted in March 2016 covering all Phase-I activities of the Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP), while the second report was submitted in February 2017 covering activities of Phase-II till December 2016. A third report was released in August 2017 which covers activities undertaken in Phase-II from January 2016 to June 2017.
A team of 18 professionals consisting of foresters, environmentalists, GIS experts and social scientists were selected to carry out the monitoring. The sampling methods used were stratified random and systematic sampling techniques, for which the international monitoring standard for a sample size is 10 percent of the total area under study. The team sampled 50 per cent of the intervention area in Phase-I and 20 per cent in Phase-II, which is well above the required sample size.
In order to ensure unbiased and effective monitoring a combination of various approaches and tools were employed during this assignment (see reports here and here for details). The USDA Forest Services and the European Science Foundation for National Forest Inventories to estimate change in forest resources use the same approach.
In the first phase, a total of 6,758 hectares (ha) of block plantations and 494 ha of roadsides and canal-side plantations were carried out till August 2015 by the KP Forest department out of which 3,774 ha of block plantation and 257 ha of linear plantations were monitored by WWF-Pakistan. Twenty-seven different species of 6 to 10 months were planted. The average survival rate of block plantations was 86 per cent and 79 per cent in roads and canal side plantations respectively.
The project also established a total of 411 enclosures to improve natural forests out of which 210 enclosures were monitored. The average number of seedlings per hectare of enclosures was found to be 2,316 by WWF-Pakistan. Over 13 different indigenous species had been regenerated, which also included some endangered species such as Taxus walichiana.
About 135 hectares of saline and waterlogged areas were treated against the target of 150 hectares out of which an area of 81 ha was monitored. Suitable species had been planted with an overall survival rate of 72 per cent.
Out of the 178 ha, 135.40 ha (75.90 per cent) was monitored. The overall survival rate of brushwood and seedlings was 74 per cent. WWF-Pakistan’s monitoring team found that 11 types of engineering, bio-engineering and biological measures had been applied for badlands treatment. It also reported that about 57 per cent of the measures were suitable and relevant according to the selected sites while 86 per cent of the measures had good layout and designs.
In the second phase of the project, 20 percent of the intervention area was monitored. Against the total target of 2,850 closures, the KP Forest Department established 4,007 closures showing an over achievement of 21.17 per cent. The team monitored 403 closures with an area of 25,009 hectares while detailed data was collected in 253 closures with an area of 15,682 ha. The average number of seedlings per hectare was found to be 2,412 showing a slight improvement as compared with the last year figures.
Out of the total achieved target of 103,973 hectares of plantation in Phase-II, WWF-Pakistan monitored 23,221.13 ha in 263 sites. The average survival rate of block plantations was 84.79 per cent and 83.54 percent for roads and canal side plantations respectively. Under the rehabilitation of saline and waterlogged areas a total of 9,884.3 ha was treated against the target of 1,000 ha, out of which an area of 2,633 ha was monitored. Suitable species had been planted with an overall survival rate of 83.4 per cent.
Out of the total target of 950 hectares under reclamation of ‘bad sites’, the KP Forest Department treated 962 ha until the end of June 2017. The WWF-Pakistan team monitored an area of 326.36 ha (33.92 per cent) of bad sites treated with various measures and techniques. A target of 10 degraded watersheds had been fixed under Phase-II of the BTTAP project. By end of June 2017, six degraded watersheds were also treated.
According to the FAO Tropical Forest Resources Appraisal estimates in 76 tropical countries, the average mortality rate of new plantations is 30 per cent in the first year. WWF-Pakistan’s third party monitoring found this rate to be 16 per cent in 263 plantation sites.
Natural regeneration was considered part of the afforestation project as regeneration took place as a result of new plantations, which would were protected and survived due to new plantations.
WWF-Pakistan’s third party monitoring was carried out according to Ecological Society of America standards and transparency of the activity was ensured at every step of the process. Based on the field monitoring WWF-Pakistan proposed a number of recommendations to improve BTAP objectives, which were also listed in monitoring reports (see reports here and here for details).