SHARANA (Pajhwok): Pine nut and oak trees are illegally cut down and sold in three districts of southeastern Paktika province including Shakin, Warmami and Zerok, residents say, insisting arbitrary deforestation is a crime under Afghanistan’s laws.
Sabir Gul, a resident of Zerok district, told Pajhwok Afghan News that some people had recently started cutting forests in their district.
“They have brought electric saws and are cutting green trees, this is a great injustice with future of the country’s forests,” he said.
In the past, he recalled, people would only cut dry trees, but dry trees no longer existed and thus green trees were chopped off.
Another resident of the district, Mohammad Rafiq, said the district was home to wide forests of pine nuts and oak. “Deforestation has now become a business, people cut green trees on hillsides. dry them and sell the timber in local markets,” he said.
Helmand, another resident of Zerok, said that local tribal elders would punish those cutting green trees in the district in the past, but now the tradition had died.
“Illegal deforestation is ongoing in areas controlled by both the Taliban and government, this should be stopped,” he added.
A resident of Shakin district, Noorullah said that illegal deforestation was underway in their district as well. He said forests of the district would be finished soon if the government did not stop illegal cutting of trees.
A provincial council member of Paktika, Afsar Khan Sulaimankhel, confirmed deforestations in Zerok, Warmami and Shakin districts.
He said security officials were present in the areas and they accepted 10,000 afghanis as bribe from each truck transferring the trees.
Paktika press office’s head, Ghazi Danish, said that investigation had been launched about illegal deforestation in the province.
“We will stop this and anyone involved would be punished based on the law,” he said.