Pakistan: Illegal logging of last trees along canals & riverine forests in Sindh

Federal and provincial governments of Pakistan are looking else where
while an illegal tree cutting campaign is being carried out on a mass
level along the canal banks and in the riverine forests in Sindh.
Continuous tree cutting has lent a barren look to the banks of canals
and forests alongside the River Indus, destroying the area’s
ecological environment as well as depriving the livestock and wildlife
of their fodder. Recent reports, received from the banks of Rahri
canal in northern districts of Sindh, show that trees are being
chopped down on a massive scale. Local villagers allege that the
relatives of influential political figures are involved in the
tree-cutting campaign.

The Sindh Irrigation Department’s official
records reveal that the three barrages built on the River Indus are
Sukkur Barrage, Guddu Barrage and Kotri Barrage, each with a dozen
canals. On the right bank of Sukkur barrage, the three main canals are
Main Khair Thar canal, Dadu Canal and Rice Canal while one the left,
the four main canals include Nara Canal, Rohari Canal, Khairpur East
Canal and Khaiprur West Canal. On the right side of Kotri Canal, Kalri
Baghar or KB Feeder is located and on left side three main canals
exist including Phuleli, Pinjari and Akram Wah. These canals are
spread all over the province and due to seepage they have resulted in
thick forest growth, turning the area into a huge forest range. The
Sindh Forest Department’s records show that some of the important tree
varities include Babool (acacica nilotica), Sheesham or Talhi
(dalkagia sisoo), Neem (azatrteha indica), Jar (salvudora oleoides),
Sufedo (Eucalyptus) and Sareenh (Albizia).

These trees not only
strengthen the canal embankments but also provide fodder for the
livestock and wildlife as well as maintaining the ecology balance in
the province. Irrigation Department officials say that a large number
of Baildars (guards) were posted to look after the banks and the trees
in the past but at present, the Baildars are not working properly. As
there is no check and balance to keep the previous system functional,
the situation has worsened massively because of the timber mafia. In
the past month, thousands of trees were chopped down along the banks
of Nara Canal in district Khairpur and now the timber mafia has moved
to Rohari canal in the Sanghar district. A resident of Shahdadpur,
Abdul Satar Khoso, said that dozens of trucks, donkey-carts and
trailers loaded with tree trunks were seen passing through his town.
He said that the timber mafia was not only chopping down trees from
the banks of Rohri canal but even the trees growing alongside smaller
canals were not spared.

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