Koh-e-Sulaiman (Takht-e-Sulaiman) mountain range is one of the highest national parks lying at an altitude of 3,487 metres (11,440 feet) with a unique ecosystem that would be preserved and developed as the country’s first transboundary national park.
Provincial Minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Faisal Amin Khan Gandapur told APP in an exclusive interview that the Koh-e-Sulaiman range was located between K-P and Balochistan and was home to the endangered species of Sulaiman markhor, urial, striped hyena and the world’s largest pure stand forest of chilghoza (pine nut).
“This unique ecosystem should be protected and will be an excellent national park lying at the juncture of two provinces as per the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan," he added.
Pakistan, he said, was home to 12 ecological zones with one of the exotic and rarest species of mammals, reptiles, flora and birds species.
"In order to benefit the widespread forest cover, a large-scale olive trees cultivation would be initiated in the mountain range as it had a suitable environment for the less water-intensive and lucrative fruit species," he added.
Gandapur informed that the initiative was carried out under the protected areas initiative (PAI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Climate Change, Forest Department K-P and Forest Department Balochistan province.
He said its development would be a great boost for this zone spread over K-P and Balochistan’s Zhob district.
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He pointed out that this mountain range had huge potential for wild olive grafting.
The minister also quoted the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Pakistan) that the world’s one of the best pure stand forest of chilghoza was also in this range and had the potential for increasing the chilghoza trees in this forest through massive plantation.
Gandapur, while highlighting the historical and cultural significance of the mountain range, told that as per the local legend the grave of the ancestral father of all Pashtun tribes “Abdur Rashid” also called “Qais Baba” was on the top of Takht-e-Sulaiman (Throne of Solomon) altitude 3,487m, the highest point of Sulaiman Range (erstwhile Frontier Region Dera Ismail Khan) locally known as Qissay Ghar or “Qais’s Mountain”.
The minister said that Fabled Throne and Qais’s grave were still a highly visited place, also mentioned in Travels of Ibn e Batuta book pages 98 and 99.
Elaborating on the development and conservation measures being implemented with the consideration of local communities, he said walking tracks would be developed in the mountain range to make easy access to this beautiful destination.
The mountain range had a huge presence of medicinal herbs among other biodiversity species that would be a great asset to create green jobs for local communities.
He said the K-P government would start a community-based conservation project, to create green jobs for the locals in both provinces.
In an interesting move, Gandapur told that the local people were very happy with this project, adding that negotiations were also conducted with local elders in this regard.
He concluded that the K-P government was also negotiating with the Punjab government to develop this beautiful destination as a tri-boundary national park.
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