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MANGEMENT OF FORESTS IN PAKISTAN

The natural forests and how wisely they are managed and used determine to a large extend a country’s wealth and the being of its people. Forests are one of these basic resources which supply wood and forage, safeguard watersheds, furnish habitats for wildlife and provide a suitable base for recreational development. Compared to other natural variety of products and service to man and they can be improved, renewed and even created by man.
Obviously, the first step to perpetuate this important resource is its scientific management, systematic exploitation, complete utilization of the produce together with adoption of all suitable measure for regeneration and afforestation. Since there is a wide variety of forest types in Pakistan, methods employed to manage them are also diverse and many.
Coniferous Forests: Nature over the past several hundred years has built up a reserve of wood in the conifer forests. They can be characterized as having a high volume of wood per hectare but a very annual growth rate. The high volume per hectare is ideal for meeting immediate timber needs, but the low growth rate is dreadful for meeting future timber needs. Past management of the conifer forests has been practically a custodial type of forestry but fortunately the trend is now toward scientific management.
High hill forests which are located in comparatively steeper slopes and cannot be regenerated under the clear felling or uniform system are worked under selection system which is nothing more than the harvesting of trees over a specific size. These include the deodar, kail, fir and spruce forests of Kaghan and Murree Hills; and the open, deteriorated chir forests of Murree Hills. An exploitable commonest size fixed for all coniferous trees is 60 cm, d.b.h. though 71.0cm is prescribed in Kaghan. A minimal rotation worth the name is specified which corresponds to the age at which the trees reach the exploitable size which is usually 120 years, but is 150 years for deodar, fir and kail in the moist zone of Kaghan and 200 years for the dry zone for Kaghan.
Chir forests which grow on comparatively lower level. The rotation is 100-120 years and regeneration period is 25-30 years, former is therefore divided into 4 periodic blocks namely P.B.I., P.B.II., P.B.III. and P.B.IV. while P.B.I has regeneration block, rests of the periodic blocks are for 50-60 to 75-90, 25-30 to 50-60 and 0 to 25-30 years of average age respectively. The regeneration period sometimes varies depending upon the establishment of regeneration.
The present system of management in the coniferious forests leaves much to be desired. Rotations of 120 years and more are not the economic rotations. Today vesting and manufacturing methods have made it possible to utilize timber demands are for quantities of usable wood and modern harmaterial from relatively small, fast grown trees.
SCRUB FORESTS: The scrub forests provide valuable protective cover to the water sheds and are source of fire wood to local communities. The main management objective in these forests is to protect the watersheds and at the same time supply some fuel wood. They are growing under rather adverse conditions and will never produce large volume of wood per acre.
Selection coppice system is applied to the Olea cuapidata, Acacia modesta and Dodonaea viscose scrub forests and exploitable diameter fixed is 15-20 cm, 20 cm and 5-7.5cm respectively for these species. Soil and water conservation are the important part of management of the scrub forests and check damming and gully plugging, etc, is done to protect and perpetuate these forests. Afforestation work by dry zone afforestation technique is also underway.
Past abuse, over grazing and heavy fire wood exploitation has eliminated many of the forests and degraded most of the existing ones. This cannot be allowed to continue if the watersheds are to be protected and future fire wood demands are to be fulfilled. Improvement of the present forests and establishment of the new ones under the semi-arid conditions of the scrub forests zone would have to be undertaken on extensive scale.
SCRUB FORESTS: Scrub forests provide valuable protective cover to the watersheds and are source of fire wood to local communities. The main management objectives in these forests are to protect the watersheds and at the same time supply some fuel wood. They are growing under rather adverse conditions and will never produce large volume of wood per acre.
Selection coppice system is applied to the Olea cuspidate, Acacia modesta and Dodonea viscose scrub forests and exploitable diameter fixed is 15-20 cm, 20 cm and 5-7.5 cm respectively for these species. Soil and water conservation are the important part of management of the scrub forests and check damming and gully plugging, etc., is done to protect and perpetuate these forests.
IRRIGATED PLANTATIONS: These man made forests were originally planned to produce fire-wood to run the newly started railways in the last century. Fire wood is still the principal along with some timber for furniture and sports goods industry.
The irrigated plantations were originally started to supply fuel wood to the railways. When the railways changed over to coal, the plantations continued to supply fire wood and timber to the rapidly growing urban centers. The management will have to be made highly intensive so that returns from forestry could equal the opportunity cost of water and land used for growing timber crops.
RIVERAIN FORESTS: The riverain or Bela forests located in the flood plains of the major rivers are an important source of wood. Babul is the principal species in the southern half of Indus flood plain while shisham predominant in northern flood plains. These forests depend on flood waters for their water supply. They are scattered over 304200 hectares in Sindh and Punjab.
Silvicultural system adopted in babul riverain forests is clear felling followed by artificial regenerated by broadcasting seed of Acacian ilotica in receding water during the following abkalani. Natural regeneration is by means of root suckers and coppoice is encouraged in the case of bahan (Populus euphratica), and Kandi (Prosopis cineraria) which are also found along with Babul. Rotation for Babul is 20 years and for Kandi 30 years. Yield is regulated by area, reduced by quality classes and density with a volume check. Cleaning may be done during 2nd or 3rd growing season to give a spacing of 2×2 meters to Babul plants. Thinning is done after 7th and 14th year of crop age.
MANGROVES: These forests are managed under selection system as thes4e are very important from environmental point of view and as a habitat for a variety of aquatic life. The indigenous species are bushy and stunted. Efforts are being made to introduce fast growing and valuable species in these forests.
Major constraints to develop tree cover and possible Action Plains
The major constrains to develop and protect the tree cover are:
Ø  Excessive tree cutting including theft.
Ø  Allocation of forest land for purposes other than forestry
Ø  Heavy incessant pressure of grazing as well as lopping fir fodder.
Ø  Loss of forest quality and continuous decline of commercial species.
Ø  Failure or only partial success of development projects.
Ø  Site deterioration due to misuse and mismanagement of forest lands.
Ø  Lack of funds. There are not only across the board cuts even after annual allocation but also there is no provision of funds for maintenance and management of areas planted under development projects.
Ø  Poor management especially water management of irrigated plantation leading to reduce out put.
Ø  Weak, ineffective ill equipped extension services and absence of effective monitoring and evaluation.
Ø  Lack of awareness of the problems inspite of heavy use of forest resource and their depending of rural population on it.
Ø  Lack of basic data hampering the departmental management.
Ø  Difficulty in user oriented approaches and their association in forest management including lack of provision of alternative products or source of livelihood.










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