By Fakhar Alam

PESHAWAR, Aug 19 (APP):An APP Feature Climate change makes negative impact on human as well as wildlife and this hallenge can be countered through whopping plantation.

Moreover forests boost up chances of rains and provide breeding spaces to wildlife to grow This is the experts’ opinion.It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan is known as a home of coveted Snow Leopard and Markhor worldwide, and is a unique country with diverse geographical features, biodiversity and forests zones stretching from Himalayas Gilgit Baltistan to Arabian Sea at Karachi, making it most suitable for conservation of wildlife.

Moreover,Pakistan is blessed with more than 786 species including 186 reptiles and 173 mammals including snow leopard found in Himalayan ranges in Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan, national animal markhor in Chitral, Kohistan, Asiatic cobra snake in Murree, Swat, AJK and GB, muggar cocodile in rivers of Sindh and Balochistan, Krait snake & fishing cats in Sindh, dolphins, blue whales and sharks in coastal belt of Sindh and Balochistan, grey wolf in Cholistan, Tharparkar, Balochistan, wild sheep and goats in Punjab, AJK, GB, common leopard in Hazara, Malakand, black and brown bears in northern areas of the country.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is a unique province of Pakistan bestowed with about 98 mammals, 456 birds and 43 reptiles largely dependent on 4500 plants, insects and weeds available in abundance in forests areas of the province.

Wildlife’s flora has been enhanced in KP after plantation of 1.2billion plants including 600 million on 306,983hactares through forest enclosures, 200 million on 263,213 hectares man made and 200 million through farm forestry were achieved under Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf PTI) government flagship Billion Trees Afforestration Project (BTAP), said Muhammad Tehmasip Khan, Project Director BTAP while talking to APP.

As a result of whopping plantation, KP’s forest covered areas has been enhanced to record 26.3pc in 2018 from 20.3pc in 2013 during 2014-17, registering six percent increase and efforts are underway to jack it up to 30pc in next four years under ‘Plant of Pakistan’ initiative of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

At least 10 new small and big jungles had been raised in KP including Ghari Chandan Peshawar where record 3.2billion plants on 32,000 hactares land were planted under BTAP. “The plants have achieved 12 to 15 feet height at Ghari Chandan forests bigger than Changa Manga, which is full of nests of migratory and native birds” said Tehmasip Khan.

“The new jungles have created breeding grounds for native and exotic wild species including falcons, bears, houbara bustard, cranes, bears, common leopard, dove, ducks, monkeys, foxes, wolves, jackals, pigeons, pheasant’s monal, koklas, kaleej, tragopan, black & grey partridges and national bird chakor to thrive,” he informed.

The substantial enrichment of flora, insects and weeds have accelerated arrival frequency of migratory birds including cranes, falcons, doves, ducks and houbara to Pakistan from Central Asian Republics (CARs) including Mongolia, Siberia and Afghanistan,” said Said Kamal Khan, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Wildlife Department KP.

He said DI Khan, Lakki Marwat, DG Khan, Rahimyar Khan, Muzzafargarh, Bahwalpur and Tharparkar were the favorite areas of popular houbara bustard, saker and peregrine falcons being their winter habitats.
Kamal said increase in population of native wild species was being witnessed in forests after enlargement of their habitats and effective conservation programs of Wildlife Department.
Tehmasip Khan, said BTAP’s second phase has been launched to plant additional one billion plants in KP under ‘Plant of Pakistan’.

Keeping in view multifaceted benefits of BTAP, Prime Minister Imran Khan has inaugurated “Plant for Pakistan” on September 2, 2018 under which 10 billion plants would be sown across the country by 2023.
“We have formally started monsoon plantation campaign since July 15 in KP where nurseries were raised on 540 hectares land to achieve the set target with the help of defense forces, educational institutes, NGOs, national building departments, farmers and general public.

“10 BTAP has been extended to erstwhile Fata where vast land is available for afforestation to increase KP’s forest area upto 30pc during next four years,” saying about Rs9 billion would be spent on plantation activities in merged areas.

Faique Khan, Provincial Coordinator, Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) Project said an inclusive survey has been launched for documentation of wildlife population and dynamics of key wild species in Siran and Kaghan forests divisions in Mansehra district.

“A molecular study of black bear has been recently conducted after obtaining samples of bear’s hairs for extraction of DNA for sequencing of next generation,” he said, adding this exercise would help in identification of hereditary and breeds of the wild animal in conservation programs.

He said survey of indigenous pheasants and grey langur’ monkey was also underway that would help estimation of their population, characteristics and life. “The initial findings revealed an increase in numbers of leopards, bears, gorals, monkeys, pheasants, partridges and birds in these forests divisions,” he said.

Syed Ishtaiq Urmar, Provincial Minister for Environment, Wildlife and Forests said five national wildlife parks were being established at Kumrat, Anso Lake, Satara Nand in Mansehra and Palas Kohistan to conserve and care wildlife resources.

As many as six national parks were established including Saiful Malook and Lalusir in Mansehra, Nathia Gali and Ayubia in Abbottabad and Chitral Gol in Chitral besides eight wildlife parks, nine pheasantries and 15 breeding enclosures.

“No person can possess or transport wildlife species or establish private zoo unless allowed by the Govt,” he maintained.

He said 200 nature clubs were established in Govt schools across the province to create awareness among students about significance of wildlife and their role in balancing of eco-system and biodiversity.