Pakistan: Ajaz Ahmad’s letter: Deforestation in the Kalash

For a country’s environmental and economic well being it is essential
that 25% of its territory is covered with forest. According to Chitral
Conservation Strategy, the District Chitral has only 4.5% of its land
under forest.

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Kalash valley has been the best forest resource in the District and
provides a lot of timber; fire wood and other non-timber forest
produces to the other part of the district. On the other hand, the
high mountains in which the major part of the resource is situated are
catchments of the river chitral. Similarly local communities depend on
the resource for their timber and fuel wood needs, fodder for cattle,
and a general source of livelihood. The importance of the resource for
the wild life habitat, environmental conservation, and bio diversity
cannot be over stated.

On these accounts sustainable management of the forest resource in the valley is extremely important and at the same time highly complicated. Deforestation, overgrazing and cultivation on the steep slopes have accelerated erosion and run off and flash flood. Flooding takes a heavy toll of agriculture lands and villages. They poor people depend on livestock and marginal agriculture for subsistence. As the population increase, so do livestock numbers. Land holding is too small to sustain such a livelihood. Local community overgrazes forest, hillside and alpine pasture, and cultivates the vulnerable watershed form cultivation.

The entire Valley is a very sensitive watershed and susceptible to erosion due to its rough topography and steep slope. Deforestation is high. The ecological damage inflict due to deforestation is most disastrous. Loss of forest quality translates into loss of biodiversity. The degradation of
forest results in the loss of important carbon “SINKs” and erosion is
given boost. Erosion has led to not only decline in fertility and
desertification in some areas of the valley but the run off deposition
in irrigation channels of the valley, that feed the agriculture crops
put pressure on the waterways. One of the unique features of
deforestation in kalasha valley is the decline of Juniper forest from
the valley, which is considered to be very important holly tree by the
Kalash community.

Mitigation: 1) To combat deforestation in the valley, the most obvious step to take is to t plant more trees. 2) Alternative source of fuel and fuel-efficient technology should be introduced in the valley. 3) Reforestation and afforestation drives must be multiplied and effort should be made to check illegal logging. 4) Non-timber forest produce should be promoted as alternative to forest logging in the valley, so as to provide alternative source of income. 5) The entire kalash valley should be declared as Kalash National park in order to protect the unique culture and rich biodiversity of the valley. Ajaz Ahmed, Chitral

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Comments (7)

NadiaMarch 1st, 2009 at 2:14 am

Ajaz Ahmad is a yong but experience forester from chitral, i always impressed from his research and suggestion on forestry conservation in chitral.

this articles is very imformative and is enough for awarness raising about the deofrestation in the vurnerable kalaha valley.

i need e-mail address or any contact no of the writer, plz do provide me if any one have the same,
Nadia, Hunza

M.AyubJuly 13th, 2009 at 9:11 pm

Ajaz has started good initiatives highlighting the environmental issues of tiny fragile environment of Kalash valleys. His work will help to stop cutting of cedar trees and protect habitate of wild life which are endangered due to deforestation in the valleys.Mr Ajaz is first of its kind to be a proactive, creative and interactive forester amongst the Pakistan Forest Institute (PFI) gradutes. He is a role model and his work is good enough to create awareness amongst the other foresters, forest guards and other field staff of forest department. I really appreciate his realistic approch and hope him to continue his research work in future.

Dr. MonikaJuly 18th, 2009 at 5:40 am

excellents work done by the young forester. the contained information educated me alot about the environmental problems of the Kalasha valley Chitral Pakistan. there is a need to developed a special policy for the conservation of natural resources of the valley by looking the soico economic condation of local committees.

Mr. Ajaz well much impressed from your services, keep it up,

Dr Monika, Afghanistan

Saleem KhanAugust 8th, 2009 at 10:04 pm

the indigenous resources of kalasha valley need to be protect and it is very important to invol community participation in the conservation activities taken by NGOs and local forestry department. the idea put forward by Mr. Ajaz is very good and need urgent soluction. the research or observation of the young forester is very inovative. iam very tahnkful to the District forest officer chitral for posting of Mr. ajaz in kalasha valleys, as we sure that he will workout to eliminate deforestation from the valleys, carry on ajaz,

Saleem Khan,
NRM, expert

Dr.Maha MirOctober 21st, 2009 at 9:42 am

Well done Ajaz and keep it up,

Dr. Maha Mir,

Umeed AliNovember 21st, 2009 at 7:51 am

The environmental problems, like Climate change, global warming, deforestation etc will affect the organic kalasha valley greatly due to its unique ecosystem. In fact deforestation is a very serious problem of the area. The young forester has intimately observed the problems and shared it with all the communities of the globe. The writer has also suggested mature and valuable suggestions for the over come of these problems. Thank you very much Mr. Ejaz for your contribution in conservation of natural resources. I am looking forward for your more nice research on the theme.

Umeed Ali
Islamabad, Pakistan

Mohsin IrfanMarch 30th, 2010 at 3:43 pm

like other developing countries,deforestation is a serious threat to our environment,natural resources,wild life.soil fertility,soil organic matter and medicinal plant species in pakistan.its no doubt the government of pakistan is still failed to take a strong initiative for the protection of our forest resources.Global warming and climate change,greenhouse gas emissions all these terrms directly or indirectly attached with deforestation.We should think and protect our forests especially in northern areas by introducing alternative sources of energy like solar and wind these areas most of the people reliant on forests and firewood use as a source of energy especially for cooking,heating and water heating.

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