Impact of Climate Change on Forest Cover: Implications for Carbon Stock Assessment and Sustainable Development in HKH Region-Pakistan.


Byline: Sohail Abbas, Safdar Ali Shirazi, Mian Sabir Hussain, Muhammad Yaseen, Khadija Shakarullah, Saadia Sultan Wahla and Mareena Khurshid

Climate is the average weather over many decades in any location. Climate change refers to any statistical significant and persistent change in the mean state of the climate over the long period of time. Climate variability may refer from natural internal processes within climate system or from variations in natural or anthropogenic external forces. Recently, the world pass from the alarming condition of the increase the temperature at the rate of 0.128 +- 0.026 AdegC per year for the period of 59 years (IPCC, 2007a). This increase in temperature leads towards the concept of global warming. Currently, Pakistan is also facing such severe problem of the climate change which, appears to be rising the temperature substantially (Abbas et al. 2018A). Climate has intrinsic variability and has been changed in past decades. Climaticand its results from natural variability and anthropogenic changes in climate which impacts to vulnerability of human and natural systems (IPCC, 2012).

Paul et al. (2011) reported that the temperature of the earth is increasing due to increase in concentration of Co2 in the atmosphere and change in land use practicing. This increase in temperature indicates adverse impact on our earth. Similarly, Copeland et al. (2010) reported that mostly our climate change occurred due to changes in vegetation pattern and deforestation. The temperature and rain have an adverse impact on the land use patterns. The soil erosion caused by the extension of the extensive agricultural practices, soils is eroded by the water and wind circulations. Such erosion decline the fertility of the soil with respect to elevation. This will damage the soil properties and deforestation (Benediktas, 1994). Mango et al. (2010) has found that current climate change situation in the world has made population more vulnerable and uncertain to future of this planet.

Due to increasing understanding of climate change situation and its implication for security, trade, the ecosystem, economy and the human and other species well-being, it attained top priority around the globe at the level of business, community and government. The flow of the water from the peak and erosion is the basic reason of the conversion of agricultural land through forest. Grimm et al.(2008) stated that variations in climatic patterns are chiefly communal in emerging states; similar land use/land cover variations are produced by persistent socioeconomic development, leading to consequences such as ecological degradation and substantial landscape disintegration. The related environmental variations have so far been diverse in forests covering particular areas. Lately, the human variations, which have been characterized as extraordinary, have forcefully affected the earth's environment and ecosystems (Lambin et al. 2001).

Zhaung et al. (1999) described that the agricultural area declined due to increase the trends of urbanization and anthropogenic activities.Ahmed et al. (2007) stated that due to phenomena of climate change, the human based activities on the earth system affected. It's become challenging for human because due this our socio-ecological mobility in the ecosystem.The threat of climate change can be coped with by identifying its effects on different socioeconomic sectors of the country. Substantial efforts have been made to establish reliable and accurate records of surface air temperatures of the region (Singh and Sontakke, 1996; Abbas et al. 2018b). The emission of various types of the gases into ecosystem directly affecting the land covers parameters,components like forest cover, soil fertility and agricultural land. It is increasing the risk to human health (Serageldin, 2006).

The most important challenge is the climate change in the ecosystem of the 21st century (Crutzen and Stoermer, 2000).The environmental researchers and scientists forecast that similar rate of the depletion of natural resources may cause the catastrophic failures (Steffen, 2004). There are many types of climatic drivers that have the multi-faceted. The soil textures of the Swat district are gravely togravely, sandy loam and stone, sandy loam and rocks were fine grained and igneous types (Nawaz, 1987).The seven classes of the forest in the Swat district ranged from tropical deciduous to alpine. Many reports in Swat have been published about the medicinal species. According to such reports, it has approximately 1550 species of flowering plants and 56 Pteridophyte. The most area of Swat consists of Flora and Fauna. The 93 plant species are threatened in Swat, which contributes 8% of the total plant species.

Whereas, 11.5 and 7.5% observed vulnerable and rare species respectively in the Swat valley (Shinwari, 2000). The study highlighted the high rate of environmental degradation by the increasing trend of deforestation in the Swat valley and land converted into the agricultural sector (Khan, 2009;Von Mirbach, 2000). The study of land use change dynamically recorded a significant decrease in forest resources in Kalam, Malam Jabba and Barikot regions (Qasim et al. 2013).Similarly, a study conducted in the Kumrat valley, which lies in the Upper Dir district and borders the study area on the western margin reported a 100% increase in agricultural land (Ahmad and Nizami, 2015).The trend of deforestation increased due to land conservation for agriculture in the lower of Swat valley. Moreover, pasture face threats due to the increasing trend of overgrazing (Ilas, 2013; Ilyas et al. 2011).

Reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) carry out different types of risks for national and regional population.The Land covers changes in different areas of Swat valley depending on the socioeconomic and ecological conditions. The main objectives of the study is to estimate the forest coverage area from 1980-2015 and the effects of the climate on theforest cover area. Furthermore also to identifying the trend of carbon dioxide emission during different time slots in Swat,Pakistan.

  1. Material and Methods

    2.1 Study Area

    The Swat district is the part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. It is situated in the Malakand Division. Swat lies in the north-westof Pakistan (Figure 1). The Swat valley bordered by the Chitral in the northwest region, Gilgit districtlocated in the north-east, Shangla in the east, and Malakand division in south-west direction. According to Physiography, Swat valley has a hillyterrain with elevationsranging from 682 to 5821meters that continuously remained above the mean sea level(msl) because of mountainous nature of the area form south to north inHindu Kush mountain rangeand its foothills. The region naturally covered with Swat River. This valley consists of the forest cover, fruits, terracing and the agricultural land. The Green Valleyof the Swat is wealthy in special species like the flora and fauna. The population census organization deliberated (2017) that the total area of Swat district is 5367 kmA2 and population density is 430.4 per kmA2.

    However, total population of Swat 1.2 million around, while average annual growth rate is 3.37. Due to intense population and urbanization trend and the coarse...

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