Study Tour of Forestry BS-VII students to various Forest Types in KPK, Punjab, and AJK
The Department of Forestry, Range and Wildlife Management, Karakoram International University placed a significant emphasis on graduating students for practical learning and exposure to the forestry field and organized a study tour for the BS-VII students to various areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Azad Jammu and Kashmir for the study of the forest types of Pakistan and their management from October 21-29, 2022.
Beginning in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region blessed with some of the most significant bounties of nature, students observed variety in floral diversity down to Chilas. The breathtaking valleys, plains, peaks, and heritage sites in this dry temperate region attract visitors worldwide. Chilas, located on the Indus River, is now grappling with the consequences of large swathes of denuded forest, a decline in the bird population, and shrinking vegetation cover due to anthropogenic activities. The vegetation of the area falls in the dry temperate coniferous forest containing the natural forests, which mainly consisted of Cedrus deodara (Diar / Deodar), Pinus wallichiana (Kail), Abies pindrow (Fir), and Pinus gerardiana (Chilgoza), Picea smithiana (Spruce), Juniper (Juniperus spp) pure or mixed, etc. In some places, forests have been subjected to overuse due to illegal cuttings and free grazing. The change in land use, particularly for forest land use in the Diamer district of GB, is associated with social, environmental, and economic factors. The natural forests in Northern Areas are critical watersheds of valleys below, and this water is the mainstay for agriculture and hydropower for the floodplains in Pakistan. Many species of wild animals and plants depend on these forests. Some of the species and habitats have national and global significance. Like any other long-living trees, their role as carbon sink needs no emphasis. Forests are God-gifted open laboratories of nature for education and research.
On October 22, 2022, the students visited the Principal office, Punjab Forest School (PFS), Ghora Gali, Murree, where Mr. Babar Sohail, the Principal, welcomed the students and briefed them about the academic and development activities of PFS and its prospects. He also took students around and identified flora and fauna of the premises. He highlighted the establishment of the Forest Service Academy at Ghora Gully, Murree, and its scheduled role in meeting the professional demand of forest officers/officials in the homeland. The students were given a lecture on REDD+ in detail for future opportunities.
On October 23, 2022, the student visited Compartment 56 of Ghora Gali Forest Subdivision, where Mr. Hasrat Khan and Mr. Junaid, Block Officers, briefed the students about Chirpine regeneration in the enclosure and an explanation of forest boundaries was also elaborated to the students. The students participated in field exercises for fighting forest fires. They were also given elaboration of the Damage Report Book, Compensation Book, and compounding process for forest offenses.
Later on, Forest Nursery at Tret, Murree, was visited. The students were directed to practice making a layout plan of the forest nursery, showing its workable paths, and labeling its all growing stock as an exercise.
On October 24, 2022, Mr. Aamir Shehzad, SDFO Murree Forest Division, accompanied the students to watershed areas in Lower Topa, Muree, where soil conservation works and bio-fencing measures were explained in detail in the field. In the afternoon, the students also visited Ayubia National Park (ANP), where Mr. Muhammad Idrees, DFO (Wildlife), Abbottabad Wildlife Division, briefed the students about the history and management of ANP. Students also carried out an exercise on plant identification and protected areas’ characteristics. The students noted the facilities provided by the Wildlife Department in ANP.
On October 25, 2022, a field visit was made to Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) where Dr. Tariq Mehmood Bangash, the Director (Wildlife) Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB), briefed the students about MHNP history and management, and threats to its maintenance. He also elaborated upon IUCN categories of protected areas and PAs in Pakistan province-wise. Dr. Umm-e- Habiba, Assistant Director, accompanied the students to a field visit of Trail No. 5 where the flora and fauna of MHNP were identified. All the visiting students performed an exercise to eliminate the invasive species Lantana camara (commonly called lantana).
On October 26, 2022, the students visited the office of the National Project Director, Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) in Islamabad, where, on behalf of National Project Director/Inspector General Forests, Amjad Ali, the Program Officer briefed them about different phases of this program of national importance and its achievement in different phases. In the afternoon, the students visited the Timber Sale Depot of the Timber Extraction Division at Sehala, Rawalpindi. Shehzad Rasool Janjua (RFO), Incharge of Timber Sale Depot, welcomed all the students and briefed them about the timber auction, sale proceeds, auction dates, and the logging rules of the Punjab Forest Department. He elaborated on all the processes in detail about auction and Lotwara preparation. An exercise of volume calculation of different scants and logs was carried out under his supervision in the field. The students also identified Trees in the Timber Sale Depot. Later, the students proceeded to Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK).
On October 27, 2022, the students visited the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests, AJK, where Irtaza Quraishi, Conservator of Forests, welcomed all the visiting students and faculty. The Chief Conservator of Forests gave a detailed briefing about the forests of AJK and addressed the students in the first session. He also answered the questions of visiting students about the forestry scenario in AJK. The group was then taken to the local Wood Industrial Unit under the supervision of Sardar Akram, DFO, where the timber was converted for furniture and construction purposes. He conducted an exercise of volume calculation of wood pieces and scants, and all the students participated in it.
In the afternoon, the office of the Kashmir Forest School at Tandali was visited, where Mrs. Fozia, Principle KFS, welcomed the students. She gave a detailed lecture on nursery-raising techniques and management practices. A field exercise on seedling and plant identification was also conducted in the KFS nursery under her supervision.
On October 28, 2022, the tour group proceeded from Muzaffarabad to Mansehra and first visited WWF WRAP Project Office. Mr. Khurshid Ali Shah, the Site Coordinator, briefed the students about the project objectives and activities. Mr. Naqash elaborated on the concept of nature-based solutions. Mr. Manzoor highlighted the role of community involvement in project success. Later on, Mr. Muddassir Ahmad, DFO, Siren Watershed Division, briefed the students about watershed management activities at Mansehra. He elaborated upon various silvicultural systems in the forests of Pakistan and their advantages and disadvantages.
In the afternoon, the students proceeded to PFI Experimental Research Station at Shinkiari, where Mr. Sohaib Ahmad, Assistant Professor, PFI, briefed the students on Research Station activities. He took the students to the field area and showed various soil, and water conservation interventions carried out at different periods. The students also noted the regeneration status of Chirpine enclosure areas. In late hours, he elaborated Forest Types of Pakistan and the forestry scenario in the country in the present context. In the end, the students offered a vote of thanks to him and his team for their gracious welcome and all the facilities provided to visiting students and faculty by PFI.
The tour proceeded back to KIU, Gilgit, on October 29, 2022, and reached KIU safe.
The pictures from the field tour are shown below.
Further information: Dr. Ahmad Hussain, AP, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org