Evaluation of state and community/private forests in Punjab, Pakistan using geospatial data and related techniques
Forests are fundamental in maintaining water supplies, providing economic goods, mitigating climate change, and maintaining biodiversity, thus providing many of the world’s poorest with income, food and medicine. Too often, forested lands are treated as “wastelands” or “free” and are easily cleared for agricultural and infrastructure expansion.
In this paper, the sustainability of two forest ecosystems (state and community/private owned) was evaluated using SPOT-5 satellite images of 2005 and 2011. This study was conducted in a sub-watershed area covering 468 km2 , of which 201 km2 is managed by the state and 267 km2 by community/private ownership in the Murree Galliat region of Punjab Province of Pakistan. A participatory approach was adopted for the delineation and demarcation of forest boundaries. The Geographic Object-Based Image Analysis (GEOBIA) technique was used for identification and mapping of ten Land Cover (LC) features.
The results show that between the years 2005 to 2011, a total of 55 km2 (24 km2 in state-owned forest and 31 km2 in community/private forest) was converted from forest to non-forest. The conclusion is that conservation is more effective in state-owned forests than in the community/private forests.
These findings may help to mobilize community awareness and identify effective initiatives for improved management of community/private forest land for other regions of Pakistan.