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    80pc of Ghor forests destroyed

    CHAGHCHARAN (PAN): Agriculture and livestock officials say 80 percent of forests in western Ghor province have been destroyed by a drought and unauthorised tree felling.

    Around 24 hectares of land in the province has forests, pistachio, almond and other tress, but 80pc has been damaged as a result of the dry spell and deforestation over the past five years.

    Abdul Qudus, an official at the agriculture and livestock department, told Pajhwok Afghan News that deforestation in the province had been on the rise, causing serious concerns among the authorities concerned.

    He said the drought and the resultant economic problems of the people, who were unable to purchase fuel, triggered deforestation. Residents were felling trees for firewood, he added, stressing an alternative to firewood for the people to prevent deforestation.    

    With the construction of power and irrigation dams and supply of coal to the province, forest destruction in the province could be stopped, the official suggested; otherwise people would continue cutting trees.  

    Mohammad Salim 35, a resident of Chaghcharan, complained they had no electricity and fuel. As a result, he added, they were left with no option but to bring firewood from the forest, especially in the winter.  

    Abdul Qayyum, another resident of the provincial capital, acknowledged chopping down trees and selling them to the people on a daily basis to eke out a living. 

    Fazal Ahmad Fayeq, head of the Teacher Training College, expressed concern over the deforestation, saying that forests were a national asset. Trees kept the environment clean and prevented pollution, he explained.

    While blaming the government for paying no attention to environment preservation, he called for the reconstruction of dams on the Farahroad and Murghab rivers.

    Abdul Qudus said they had only 17 forest guards who could not halt deforestation. It was the responsibility of security organs to halt destruction of forests, he continued.

    The agriculture and livestock department has asked the governor's office several times to take action on the issue. But no remedial steps have been taken so far, according to the official.