Deforestation is a Super Wicked Problem of our time. It has led not only to loss of biodiversity but has also exacerbated soil degradation, flooding and global warming. Pakistan, a developing country under threat from climate change, has only a forest cover of 2% as per international surveys while local figures amount to a total of 5% of forest area. These figures are still abysmally low as compared to the Asian average of 22% and a global average of 29%. Forests are of vital concern to the environment as they act as natural carbon sinks but widespread deforestation since the advent of the Industrial age has led to unprecedented cutting of trees. This phenomena has created an environmental ethical dilemma. This essay will use the Drivers-Pressures-State change-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework to discuss this dilemma.
What is Drivers-Pressures-State change-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework?
The first factor to be considered in this framework are the Drivers. These involve the local people whose individual and collective needs are fulfilled from the forests. Also, industries and corporations are also drivers of deforestation as their macroeconomic needs and “for profit” business mantra necessitates deforestation to harvest timber, precious flora and fauna and most importantly razing of trees to clear land for construction and housing. These driving forces have at present led to the environmental issue of deforestation.
Pressures are the second factor in the DPSIR framework. These are the consequences of the driving forces i.e. the results of meeting the needs of people. Pressures resulting from deforestation have already been discussed above.
The State in the DPSIR framework accounts for the present state of the environment. It discusses the present quality of the environment. In the case of deforestation in Pakistan, the state of affairs is poor and alarming. Between 1990 and 2010, Pakistan lost almost 32% of its total forest area or around 840,000 ha. This state of affairs has led to extinction of several species of amphibians, mammals, birds and vascular plants. This has greatly damaged the biodiversity of the country.
After the snapshot or state of the environment, the DPSIR framework is concerned with the Impacts of the changes in the state of environment. These include biological, chemical and physical and include both negative and positive changes. The natural calamities like floods, landslides and also the human induces disasters like forest fires, and also forest encroachment causes degradation of both agriculture and forest area. River cutting and sedimentation due to flood and landslides are the major problems to agriculture land resulting into change in composition of forest. Increasing human encroachment on forest land has also brought wildlife into conflict with communities.
As far as Responses are concerned in the DPSIR framework, these include actions that are to be taken by society as a whole. Though driving forces are connected to pressures and these inevitably lead to impacts and state, we need to realize that immediate action for positive change is essential at present before the problem gets out of our hands. Some viable responses may include education and awareness programs, monitoring and regulations by governing bodies with capacity building for coercive and preventive measures and alternate sources for fulfilling needs of local populace.
It must be kept in mind that DPSIR framework that it is normative and thus biased. It is interconnected in entirety and thus offers limited utility in guidance and recommendations offered to stakeholders for mitigating the issue at hand. However, perfection is an illusion and thus, we must take whatever action is available to us to the best of our abilities.