By Rafiullah Mandokhail
ZHOB: In order to reduce forest degradation and improve value chain in Sulaiman Range, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change and Forest Department Balochistan installed two more Chilghoza processing units and also distributed fuel efficient stoves and gasifires among the forest-owning communities in Sulaiman Range – surrounded by verdant forests and mighty mountains.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremonies held at Surlaki and Ahmadi Dargah areas, Natural Resource Management Advisor FAO Dr Faizul Bari, Deputy Commissioner Sherani Ejaz Ahmad Jaffar, Conservator Forest Muhammad Amin Mengal, Deputy Conservator Forest Sharaf-ud-Din, District Forest Officer Attiq Khan Kakar, Provincial Coordinator FAO Yahya Khan Musakhail, notables and the area people were present in a large numbers.
Briefing the participants, Yahya Khan Musakhail said that FAO under GEF funded project ‘Reversing Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Chilghoza Pine Forest in Pakistan’, with the support of Ministry of Climate Change and the Forest department is working to support sustainable management of the pine nut ecosystem through number of initiatives to conserve pine nut forest in Pakistan. He added that Sulaiman Range produces 74% of the country’s total pine nuts production.
“Last year, the first installed processing unit processed almost 15 tons of nuts worth 24.5 Million PKR and benefited over four hundred people directly and more than 1000 indirectly,” he said.
Dr. Faizul Bari said that The Global Environment Facility GEF-funded project is aimed at preventing deforestation and restoring the value chain.
“Spread over 132,000 hectares – the annual forest production in Pakistan is Rs. 28 billion. If the harvesting method is improved, it is expected that the annual production can be increased up to Rs. 56 billion per annum,” he hoped.
He said in a bid to prevent deforestation in Sulaiman Range, tens of thousands trees have been planted in the hilly areas, harvesting tools have been provided to increase the production of pine-nuts and save the nuts-bearing trees. The processing units have been installed in Zhob city, Ahmadi Dargah and Surlaki areas for the convenience of those associated with Chilghoza business. Moreover he said, besides the provision of cone crushers, 300 gasifires and fuel efficient stoves have also been distributed to meet the need of the people living close to the forests.
Conservator Forests Muhammad Amin Mengal said that various measures were being taken to conserve forests and grazing lands in the province. For the purpose, local people are being made part of the forest conservation campaign as a ‘Nigahban’ to protect the valuable forests.
“As per the vision of Chief Minister Balochistan to promote eco tourism in the province, tracks and other facilities will be ensured to attract tourists to Takht-e-Sulaiman,” the official said.
Deputy Commissioner Sherani Ejaz Ahmad Jaffar on the occasion said that forests were a source of beauty and identity of the area. Protecting forests was one of the main responsibilities of local people besides the concerned authorities.
“The forest restoration project is a good move. The district administration and the forest department will extend all possible cooperation for the restoration of forests and prevention of deforestation. People involved in forest cutting do not deserve any concession, so no leniency should be given in taking action against the responsible people,” the newly-appointed DC warned.