During one of my recent field visit, I have found some boys on the road who were bringing firewood to their houses. When I asked these boys about firewood they said we are students of a local school in Kari village of Chitral, but due to the economic and social constraints we have to go for firewood. We spent a lot of time only on this bustle in every day. But what about our education? Well, we have to do our homework immediately after we came home from school. But sometimes, as soon as we got to the house, we told, “Mother says there isn’t enough firewood!” we have to rush to the bush and meet her and bring some home. After bringing the firewood home we would be so tired that we would not be able to do the homework. Our experience is n’t different from the rest of the students in the village. The pressure to fetch firewood and to ensure that the family has enough energy in the house was daunting. After walking two kilometers we spend a lot of time collecting firewood. Then, after getting enough, we would tie it and carry it for another two kilometers to the house. The whole house is full of smoke, a situation that always made us uncomfortable.
The ever increasing demand for fuelwood has placed great pressure on local forests and over the years it has resulted in rapidly depleting forest cover, soil erosion, and desertification. The type of deforestation resulting from the continuous use of fuelwood for household use takes on multiple forms and inflicts serious and often irreparable environmental damage. Resource depletion, loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, decreased agricultural yield and adverse climatic changes are some of the more visible impacts. In the poverty context, this is an alarming situation since the forest ecosystem is the main source of income and livelihood for many poor communities and the loss of this resource, without the creation of alternatives, has a direct bearing on their poverty status and vulnerability.
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