Course:FRST270/Wiki Projects/Power and Politics of Natural Resource Management Within Flood-Prone Communities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Pakistan

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Power and Politics of Natural Resource Management Within the Mountainous Region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

This paper aims to analyze different arguments and perpetrators behind the depletion of natural resources of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the failure to intervene in response. Depletion of natural resources is argued to be caused by exploitive resource use of affected stakeholders. This argument stems from state officials, however, mismanagement and corruption from the provincial department of forestry are also argued to have a devastating impact on natural resources. Policy formulation and implementation have struggled to address resource degradation, where support of donor-funded projects have failed to produce change. Using colonial context and livelihood situations of state officials as well as the perception of the local communities, the main groups behind the rapid degradation will be assessed. Where this paper will examine the arguments for and against for each stakeholder that may be responsible.


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) (formally known as North West Frontier Province) exist as Pakistan’s smallest yet most forested province with an area of 74,500 km2 and a population of over 30 million people (Ur-rehman, 2008). 80% of the population is estimated to reside in rural communities that utilize communal and forest resources managed by the provincial forestry department (Ur-rehman, 2008). For the past few decades, the region has experienced vast deforestation and land degradation that is projected to continue at a rapid rate (Suleri et al., 2008). In order to combat rapid deforestation, foreign donors concerned with the state of KPK’s forests have supported the forestry sector with grants and advice in the form of the Forestry Sector Project (FSP) that existed from 1996- 2003 (Geiser & Steiman, 2004). Despite efforts, little has changed since the end of FSP and policies and reforms have failed to be implemented (Geiser & Steiman, 2004). Different stakeholders behind the failure of the FSP are blamed, including locals, state officials, and even the donors themselves. In explaining the reasons behind implementation difficulties as well as continued degradation, the previous colonial rule will be assessed that can help explain power relations and current organizational system. Livelihood strategies and internal complexities of the state officials of the forestry department will be analysed that describe challenges and disorganization in implementation difficulties. The perception and participation of local communities will also be described, where they are often blamed for the resource degradation. The need for community forestry and proper implementation joint management can be recognized where resources continue to be degraded and locals who are directly affected continue without adequate support.

Affected & Interested Stakeholders

Affected Stakeholders

The People

Locals who live beside forests have certain usufructuary rights on the use of forest resources (Tabassum et al., 2014). The main resource locals are dependent on for their livelihood is fuelwood where some rural communities don’t have access to electricity and alternatives sources of energy (Ali et al, 2006). Three main stakeholders for local people can be identified as (Suleri, 2008)

  • Guzara Forest owners
    * People who own reserved forests under the Forest Act of 1878
    * Use of resources is dependent on regulations 	
  • Rights Holders
    * Owns forested land or property
  • Non-rights holders
    * Gujars (landless tribe)
    * Pay rent in order to access resources (qalang)

Often locals depend on non-timber forest products as a source of livelihood where a major portion of the province's population lives in rural communities (Ur-rehman, 2008). Affected stakeholders who utilize the land's resources are blamed for the rapid degradation of land however unsustainable management practices of the forestry department is argued to be in fault (Ur-rehman, 2008). In a research paper, it was found that 90% of respondents in a survey conducted in rural villages of KPK used fuelwood for cooking and heating (Ali et al, 2006). However very few used forest resources for commercial purposes, and the majority blame the forestry department for rapid deforestation rates (Ali et al, 2006). Many locals also blame tree smugglers (timber mafia) who illegally cut down trees in which the forestry department are unable to take effective measures (Ali et al, 2006). With restrictions on timber use and access to forests for local people, this increases resentment and mistrust between locals and state authorities (Shahbaz et al, 2011). Many perceive the forestry department as the most influential in decision making, as a result, the role of communities in decision making can be undermined, where villagers feel less of a need to participate in community management (Shahbaz et al, 2011). The forestry department authoritative behavior discourages the participation of locals and lack of cooperation between locals and department allows may allow outsiders to take advantage (Suleri et al, 2008).

Interested Stakeholders

The State

Forests in Pakistan are considered under the domain of the provincial government (Ahmed & Mahmood, 1998). Responsibilities include resource management, policy formulation, treaties, implementation, and strategic planning (Suleri et al, 2008).

Timber Mafia

Timber mafia illegally smuggles timber due to high market demand, and are argued to operate due bribing and networking practices (Ahmed & Mahmood, 1998). Issued blame between affected and interested stakeholders in the participation of illegal activities is argued to divert attention towards combating rapid deforestation (Suleri et al, 2008).

International Donor Agencies

International donor agencies often initiate donor projects in an attempt to conserve remaining forests and help direct management and participation of different stakeholders (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). These donor-led projects often initiate the creation of community-based organizations (CBO) for participation and involvement of locals(Suleri et al, 2008). However, CBO’s largely remain ineffective where many of them discontinued after the completion or end of a donor-led project (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Not much change was produced through the creation of CBO’s, one of the arguments being that local communities that exist in KPK are not “homogenous” often with different traditional systems and landownerships (Suleri et al, 2008). There’s also disconnect between locals and the forestry department that is argued to affect the completion of initiatives led by the project (Kiran, 2009). Another argument stems from improper implementation of state officials of donor-led initiatives (Shahbaz & Geiser, 2009). As a result, donor-led projects had little effect to combat rapid degradation of KPK forests where it lacks inclusive participation and proper implementation approach by state officials.

Colonial Context of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

In historical context KPK forests are divided into 2 division where one area was under British colonial rule (Hazara division) and the other (Malakand division) was independently governed by princely states. (Suleri et al, 2008). Similar to the Himachal Pradesh case study, KPK was once under British colonial rule in 1849 where “forest management became a centralized state matter” (Menzies, 2007), and before 1947 the province was a part of India. When the 1878 Forest Act was established, unlike the Kangra valley the forests of the Hazara division were classified as reserved forests where no traditional rights were recognized in comparison to protected forests of Kangra Valley (Suleri et al, 2008). Reserved forests under the colonial rule were strictly managed that regulated logging and resource use (Menzies, 2007). As a result, local people in present time still depend on forestry department regulations in order to utilize resources and benefits from the forests (Shahbaz et al, 2011).

In 1901 the region became a state known as North West Frontier Province. In 2010 the province was renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in recognition of the ethnic Pashtun population and separation from its colonial legacy (Humshehri, 2017). From 1849-1935 until the establishment of the provincial forestry department KPK’s forests were managed by the Punjab provincial forest services. The department is formally known as Department of Forestry, Fisheries, and Wildlife (DFFW) (Geiser & Steimann, 2004).

Forestry management practices from the British colonial rule still has relevance today that reflect strong traditional hierarchal structures and decision making-processes (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). These characteristics are argued to be one of the major causes of failure in policy adaptations where affected stakeholders are excluded in decision-making processes (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Although state forest administration has adopted a system that ensures proper representation of all citizens to ensure the well-being and proper functioning, in practice it is not implemented effectively.

Governance influenced by colonialism is argued to increase government income while depriving individuals of their rights to resources (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). As a result, this has fostered mistrust between the DFFW and local residents, where DFFW has gone through little change since the independence of Pakistan in 1947 (Ahmed & Mahmood, 1998).

Administrative Arrangements

Forests according to the constitution of Pakistan are a provincial responsibility that is managed by the DFFW (Ahmed & Mahmood, 1998). DFFW is argued to operate in a hierarchal manner where there are vast differences in each rank of power in state forest administration (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Livelihood strategies of employees of different ranks are argued to have an impact on policy implementation, where disorganization and internal complexities prevent employees from doing their job properly (Geiser & Steimann, 2004).

At the bottom of the state administration, we have forest guards and foresters who directly interact with locals and have authority to issue offenses (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). These people often receive low salary and live in poor living conditions, many individuals who occupy the job are not concerned with environment-related issues and are not paid enough (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Laws and regulation are interpreted differently among forest guards due to ambiguity and too low salaries. As a result, different methods are used make end and in consequence, there’s different interpretations of the law to suit one’s need (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). With low salaries and limited resources, it's often difficult to deal with illegal loggers on the ground(citation). It was also indicated that little was known among forest guards about initiated donor projects and attempted reforms of the forestry sector.

Above Forest guards, we have forest range officers who are responsible for finances. Officers receive an office and a car, however, maintenance fees are paid by officers (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Additional costs of maintenance and living expenses are not covered by the salary given, as a result, the officer has the means to fabricate accounts, delay payments and offer better deals to contractors for the benefit of the officer but not to the environment (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). Forest range officers also perceive the FSP as “completely donor-driven,” (Geiser & Steimann, 2004).

Chief technical advisers are the ones who represent donors receives a decent and well-paid salary. They are often employed a foreign consulting firm and plans are exposed to conservators and officers but never the staff who works directly with the people (Geiser & Steimann, 2004). A policy change is often seen as additional work beyond the traditional day to day duties. There is a disconnect between different levels of staff in administering and recognizing the need for change that reflect the hierarchal structure of the department.

Interested Outside Stakeholders

Social actors (stakeholders, user groups) who are interested stakeholders, outside the community, their main relevant objectives, and their relative power


A discussion of the aims and intentions of the community forestry project and your assessment of relative successes or failures. You should also include a discussion of critical issues or conflicts in this community and how they are being managed


Your assessment of the relative power of each group of social actors, and how that power is being used


In order for combat rapid degradation of KPK’s forests, an effective partnership between locals and DFFW is required in order effectively resolve problems and implement policies. The main reason locals and DFFW struggle is due to lack of communication and trust due to past colonial experience where the DFFW has shown to exhibit authoritative behavior and dominance. The department needs to recognize the need of locals in resource use as part of their livelihood strategy, where resource use of is shown to have little impact to rapid degradation of forests.

The structure of the forestry state administration needs to change where clear regulations and responsibilities need to be more transparent among all staff members. Salaries of those who work at the lower levels of the Department need to be raised where current salaries are not enough to make ends meet. Those who work at lower levels of the Department also need additional training and resources to adequately address problems such illegal harvesting of timber and proper maintenance.

Donor projects are unsuccessful due to lack of implementation and inclusive participation despite efforts (Shahbaz & Geiser, 2009). In order for them to be successful, incentive for locals to participate and be a part of the decision-making process should be provided. This can be done through DFFW actively initiating participation in communities where many locals perceive the DFFW as the most influential decision maker. Donor projects also need to recognize the complexity of each community in traditional land ownership and values in implementing initiatives to improve forest governance. Local communities should also be taught to self-manage CBO’s or initiatives with the withdrawal of support or end of donor-led projects to ensure the continuation of work that has been done to the community.

Since the majority of the rural population of KPK live in poor households, a way to motivate locals in community-based management decision is through the share of income from timber sales to provide incentive and reason to protect forest and combating illegal smugglers. The share of income from timber sale should also not be restricted to forest owners and should include the whole community in proximity to the forest. Locals in rural communities also lack access to electricity and fuel that causes them to be dependent on wood for heating and cooking purposes. Local development project can be applied that can stimulate the local economy and job opportunities and also reduce the dependency of wood in local households.


Ahmed, J., & Mahmood, F. (1998). Changing perspectives on forest policy: Policy that works for people (No. 1). IIED. Retrieved from

Ali, T., Shahbaz, B., & Suleri, A. (2006) Analysis of Myths and Realities of Deforestation in Northwest Pakistan: Implications for Forestry Extension. International Journal of Agriculture & Biology, 8(1), Retrieved from

Geiser, U., & Steimann, B. (2004). State actors' livelihoods, acts of translation, and forest sector reforms in northwest Pakistan. Contemporary South Asia, 13(4), 437-448. doi:10.1080/09584930500070670

Humshehri (2017) KPK Historical Overview: Post-Independence. Society for the Advancement of Education (SAHE) project. Retrieved from

Kiran, S. (2009) Social Network Analysis of Stakeholders in the Context of Forest Related Development Interventions in NWFP. Master thesis, Pir Mehr Shah Agriculture University. Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Retrieved from

Menzies, N. (2007). Kangra Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. In Our Forest, Your Ecosystem, Their Timber: Communities, Conservation, and the State in Community-Based Forest Management (pp. 69-86). Columbia University Press. Retrieved from

Shahbaz, B., Ali, T., & Suleri, A. Q. (2011). Dilemmas and challenges in forest conservation and development interventions: Case of northwest Pakistan. Forest Policy and Economics, 13(6), 473-478. doi:10.1016/j.forpol.2011.05.002

Shahbaz, B., Geiser, U. (2009). “Donor-driven” forest governance in northwest Pakistan – challenges and future outlook. In: Carter, J. Forests, landscapes, and governance: multiple actors, multiple roles. Bern: SDC, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, 69-70. Retrieved from

Suleri, Abid & Shahbaz, Babar & Geiser, Urs. (2008). Forest-related interventions and the stakeholders of forests in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. doi 10.5167/uzh-9601

Tabassum I, Rahman F, Haq F (2014) Dynamics of communal land degradation and its implications in the arid mountains of Pakistan: A Study of District Karak, Khyber Pakhtunkuwa. Journal of Mountain Science 11(2). DOI: 10.1007/s11629-013-2771-9

Ur-rehman, M. (2008) Sustainable Village Organizations, the Successful Route to Sustainable Livelihoods? : A Case Study in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 43(2): 197-214, doi: 10.1177/0021909607087220

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