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‘Afghanistan loses 72 pc forest cover’

Afghanistan: “Afghanistan lost 72 percent of its forest cover. The situation has become worst because glaciers, main source of water supply, are melting. Our northern peaks were covered by glaciers but last year, for the first time in 2011, the snow over these peaks melted completely,” stated Ghulam Mohammad Malikyar, Deputy Director-General of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) of Afghanistan in conversation with an Indian daily.

Commenting on Malikyar’s statement, Dr David Molden, Chief of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said, “The Himalayas have 54,000 glaciers but there is a dearth of data on these glaciers. Glaciologists are currently conducting long-term balance studies and doing remote sensing and modelling which should throw up results within the next five years.”

“This will help inform us on the kind of changes to expect in the water supply patterns in the coming years because most of the major rivers of Asia have their origins here,” he said.

The Nepal-based Dr Molden warned that rapidly melting ice could result in high-altitude floods. “If glacial lakes rupture their banks then they can destroy infrastructure and agriculture. Nepal alone has more than 1,600 glacial lakes,” added Dr Molden.

“Climate change will also adversely impact livelihoods of people living in these mountainous regions who, as a recent study has shown, are poorer than their counterparts living in the plains. This forces the men to migrate leaving the women behind to do the hard work,” Dr Molden stressed.

Source: Deccan Chronicle