Forests in Pakistan:
Forests are the best gift of nature. Besides beautifying the country, forests are beneficial as they check pollution, prevent flooding of rivers and provide fruits and raw materials such as paper and timber. They are also a means to promote tourism and are a natural habitat for wildlife.
The forests of Pakistan vary depending upon the physical features and climate of the province. In the northern areas we have a lush growth of Alpine and coniferous forests. Both require minimum sunlight and can survive in low temperatures.
Shishum, babul and other valuable variety of trees grow in the plains of Punjab. The arid areas of Sindh and Baluchistan are covered by thorny bushes and shrubs. Juniper forests are found in Ziarat in the Baluchistan province.
The Indus and Hub delta are a home of mangrove forests. These are special plants/trees which can survive in the salty sea water. Besides these naturally occurring forests, there are some forests planted by humans. The Changa Manga near Lahore is a best example of human planted forest.
Mangrove forests in the Indus and the Hub Delta are the 5th largest Mangrove ecosystem in the world. Due to lack of awareness, they were not given much importance and the mangrove trees were cut mercilessly for domestic use for the locals but now with the realization of their significance, the government and the people are taking steps to conserve it.
Significance of Mangroves
Mangroves contribute to the economy of a country. Fishing industry is an important industry of Pakistan. Pakistan exports shrimps, prawns and fish to other countries. The mangroves provide a breeding ground to these species. In this way mangroves provide employment to the people as most of the locals in that area are associated with fishing in one way or the other. The mangroves also provide fuel wood, fodder for cattle and grazing grounds for camels. Chemicals are obtained from mangroves.
Mangroves protect and stabilize the shore line and are nature’s way to check Tsunami. The mangroves along the coast line of Pakistan are a sanctuary to migratory birds as well. In Pakistan, the mangroves are at the risk of extinction. The ever increasing population and industrialization pose the biggest threat. Large areas have been wiped out to make place for buildings.
Steps taken to conserve Mangroves
To save mangroves in Sindh the WWF has set up 2 mangrove nurseries and have planted around 10,000 saplings. Locally managed nurseries are also operating. Areas cleared have been replanted. Hopefully we will be able to save our mangroves.