Forests play an important role in the economy of the country. They supply many useful and essential products and also have several indirect advantages for the economic life of the country. As regards products, they supply raw material for a number of manufacturing industries. Such as those producing sports goods, matches, paper, resin, furniture, rubber goods etc. Further, forests supply fuel wood and timber for general use and fodder for cattle etc.
This indirect advantages of forests are: important influence on the climate, shelter to a variety of wild animals and birds and prevention of sudden floods in rivers.
In the past, Pakistan had large areas of forests. But due to the continuous cutting of trees, the area under forests has been reduced.Large number of trees are, therefore, being planted to have new forests. Softwood forests are found in the northern and northeast mountainous regions. They are evergreen forests, rich in softwood trees like pine, cedar, fir, walnut etc. Softwood is used as material for buildings, making furniture and matchsticks. The trunks of some trees yield a fluid called resin which is used in making sealing wax varnishes, paints, turpentine oil, etc. In these forests, there are deodar, spruce, chestnut, acacia and fir trees. Acacia wood is used for making plows and wheels. Its sticks are also used for brushing teeth.
In the plains of Pakistan, there are short-leaved trees like acacia, magnolia and baking and broad-leaved like Sheesham, peepul, mulberry, oak, mango, walnut, etc. The sports goods made of mulberry wood are famous. The rind of acacia is used for softening and dyeing leather.
Small trees and thorny bushes are found in the region where rainfall is sparse and climate is hot. In Pakistan, such type of forests are found in NWFP, pothwar plateau and Balochistan. The wood of these forests can be used on shrubs and grasses.
The advantages mentioned above show that the forests are of great importance in the progress of a country, therefore, there is a great need to save them and increase their area. It has been estimated that a country must have 1/4th of its area under forest cultivation in order to ensure a plentiful supply of wood, induce rainfall and prevent soil erosion. In our country, the area under forest cultivation is much less than the required standard. The forest department has, therefore, arranged for tree plantation under the Guddu Barrage scheme.
During rainy and spring seasons, the government organizes ‘Tree Plantation Weeks’ in which millions of new trees are planted. The government is also making earnest efforts to promote the growth of trees and forests on scientific lines by planting up vast land in high rainfall areas.
Private and community lands by raising extensive nurseries can provide adequate plants, planting agencies and farmers. The government protects plants against damages from pests and diseases. The Forest Department guides the people and training is given about how to use manure and germ-killing medicines. Trees are the wealth of a country. No damage should, therefore, be done to them. Trees should not be cut wantonly. Fruit bearing and shady trees should be planted in a house if there be any place for them.