At times when the global financial crisis is still far from being a thing of the past, funding military operations is a real challenge. Apart from generating material losses and destruction, the Taliban have also managed to disrupt the balance of forests from Pakistan.
At the beginning, the Taliban relied on so-called 'donations' to financially support their operations. After taking into consideration the enormous economic potential of wood coming from Pakistani forests, they have started exploiting it massively, Central Asia Online
Their actions have affected the environment, but also the lives of local people depending on forests to put food on the table on a daily basis. It seems that the illegal timber trade made Pakistan lose $300m (€234) every year.
In this case, the financial aspect is not the main source of concern. The ecosystem will need a large period of time to recover from environmental degradation generated by the Taliban, since a tree requires two centuries to mature, according to Aslam Khan, assistant forest officer in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
“The Taliban ruthlessly cut down more than 80% of the forests when they controlled Swat. The illegal cutting by Taliban not only caused environmental degradation but also deprived the local population of an economic lifeline,” stated Jamshaid Ali Khan, general secretary of the Sarhad Awami Forestry Ittehad (SAFI), for Central Asia Online.
It seems that deforestation is controlled and supported by a so-called 'timber mafia' splitting profits with the Taliban. All in all, such operations have compromised 3,000 acres of forests in Pakistan, over the last four years.
The best way to reduce the influence of this manmade threat is to implement a ban on cutting trees, and adopt immediate measures to rehabilitate forests. To do so, the government has established a Joint Forest Management Committee, hoping to curb abuse and protect the environment.