Conservation, plantation helps restore 173 hectares Kehina Forest in Hazara Division

ISLAMABAD, Jan 6 (APP): The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hazara Forest Division has successfully retrieved the denuded Pine jungle spreading over an area of 173 hectares in Shinkiari Mansehra region which was marred by deforestation, unbridled grazing and other anthropogenic activities.

The Kehina Pine Forest falling in Tanawal-Agror area of Shinkiari fell under subtropical ecological zone at an elevation of some 3,000 feet to 6,000 feet above sea level, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Shinkiari, Mansehra Forest Division Muhammad Amjad told APP.

Amjad said the entire Hazara Division was predominantly Pine Forest region as Chir or Pine was local species of the forest.

He added that during the 1979 Afghan War, refugees settled in this area carried out uncontrolled tree cutting in the area that turned it into a barren rock.

Under the Billion Tree Afforestation Project (BTAP) in 2015, the Forest Department planted some 190,000 saplings that had exceeded over 300,000 trees at present due to assisted natural region, he added.

“Chir has been planted along with 3-4 percent eucalyptus due to the demand of local masses and there is over 95 percent success rate of the plantation,” the DFO said.

He elaborated that since the Afghan refugees settled here during Afghan war chopped off the old local trees, the forest was restored through human forest restoration after three years watch and guard with the help of local neghabans (forest guards).

“The protected area is restricted for grazing, human activity and tree cutting to support assisted natural regeneration like the one in Kehina Forest,” he added.

He added that most of the forests’ land was privately owned and therefore, conservation efforts were carried out after the consent of the local community.

“Tree cutting in the preserved area on private lands is managed through permit regulation allowing one individual of a household to cut trees once only as per his or her requirement,” DFO Amjad said.

To a query, he said the massive plantation had revived bird and wildlife at a massive scale particularly wild boars, magpies, varmints and red foxes.

Replying another query, he said pine was a less water consuming plant that survives on average rainfall in the sub-tropical zones. Moreover, its pollination through pine needles and other natural methods increased its regrowth manifolds.

It may be mentioned that the International Union for Conservation of Nature was also assisting the ministry to hold the third party monitoring and evaluation of the flagship Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation Project as per the demand of the government.