The Department of Forestry, Range, and Wildlife Management at Karakoram International University, Gilgit organized a six-day study tour to Murree, Ayubia, Islamabad and Rawalpindi for BS-VII students from November 23 TO 28, 2021. Dr. Abdul Mannan (Lecturer) of the Department of Forestry, Range, and Wildlife Management led the tour, accompanied by one female faculty member, Ms. Ishrat Roomi (Lecturer). On the first day of their travel from Gilglit to Murree, the students got a detailed exposure of the biophysical characteristics of the Diamer-Basha Dam. The Chief Engineer Diversion Works and Additional Chief Engineer delivered a detailed presentation about the the Dam, which is being constructed near Chilas on the River Indus. They briefed the students that the dam will provide clean energy, irrigate the lands, create jobs, and assist the country economically and environmentally, particularly the people of Gilgit Baltistan. They further elaborated the salient features, such as its type, maximum height, gross capacity, live capacity, installed capacity, annual energy, construction period, cost, land acquisition status, immediate and long-term benefits, and so on.
Students arrived at the Forest Services Academy (FSA) in Ghora Galli, Murree, around 1:30 a.m. with two faculty members. The next day, all students met with Divisional Forest Officers Mr. Babar Suhail and Mr. Asad Ali at the FSA auditorium for a session about academic activities, prospects, silvicultural practices, and management operations. After that, all students were taken to a nursery where they were taught nursery-raising procedures and given the task of collecting leaves from various tree species. Mr. Babar Suhail then led the students on a trek that took them from the southern side of the mountain to the upper slopes in Ghora Galli.
The following day, the students went to Ayubia National Park (ANP), where Mr. Shahbaz Khan (Deputy Ranger) of the Wildlife Department spoke about the park’s history, forest species, management, and wildlife species. Following that, students were taken on a 4-kilometer trek in ANP known as the pipeline trek. Every student, especially the girls, actively participated in trek. Mr. Sajad Ahmad educated the students about various tree species found in ANP through transect walks and physical observation.
The next day the students were taken to Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP), Islamabad on November 26th and briefed by Mr. Muhammad Altaf (Assistant Director) on the park’s history, divisions, and current activities. Scrub forest species such as Dodonia viscosa, Ipil ipil, Acacia modesta is commonly known as Phulai, Ziziphus also used in herbal medicine, Broussonetia papyrifera (paper mulberry, invasive tree) fast-growing tree of the family Moraceae, and others were observed by students on hiking trail # 5 in MHNP. Following Friday prayers at the Faisal Mosque, all students were taken to the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, which features galleries that display and provide knowledge about the country’s ecology, geology, and paleontology.
The next day students visited the Sihala Timber Sale Depot in Rawalpindi. Mr. Shahzad (A sub-division forest officer) guided the students on everything from wood unloading to sorting and grading to auction. Before returning the KIU faculty members and student representatives thanked Mr. Babar Suhail and Mr. Asad Ali of Forest Service Academy and other field staff who extended all possible support during the study tour. On Sunday, November 2021 the visiting students and faculty member proceeded to the return journey. On November 29th, 2021, around 7:30 a.m., all students arrived safely at Karakoram International University in Gilgit.
The students and faculty member of the Department of Forestry, Range and Wildlife Management are highly appreciative of the KIU management for providing financial approval for this study tour.