American Forces Press Service
July 30, 2009 - Members of the provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan's Kunar province facilitated a July 28 meeting between Afghan government officials and provincial leaders to address Kunar's timber situation. Gov. Fazlullah Wahidid met with the Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal and other officials at his compound in Asadabad to discuss the two main problems in the province: what do with piles of cut lumber and how to stop illegal timber cutting.
The day's events included remarks from business leaders, landowners and elders on how to protect the environment and replanting the forest, as well as discussions on a hydro-electric dam to be built in Kunar.
The officials decided to keep the lumber that's already cut in the province and use it to develop Kunar's wood industry and to help to build a better Afghanistan. The ministers also asked the elders to foster tribal support in finding a way to stop the illegal cutting of new timber.
The successful meeting raised awareness of the timber problem and demonstrated to the people that the Afghan government is taking the issue seriously, officials said.
"One of our efforts is to decrease the distance between the government and the local population," Zakhilwal said. The ministers also agreed to take another look at addressing Kunar's timber issues after the upcoming elections.
(From a Combined Joint Task Force 82 news release.)