A spring tree plantation was launched by Malakand Division Commissioner Dr Fakhre Alam in the lawn of the commissioner’s office in Swat with the planting of a cedar tree sapling.
Swat District was once known for its lush green valleys and thick forests of cedar and maple trees, but widespread illegal logging by timber smugglers and locals has left many areas bare.
Malakand Forest East Conservator Shah Wazir Khan said 1,383,000 saplings will be planted across Malakand Division, in which 1,000,000 saplings will be planted by the Forest Department, while the services of other organisations, NGOs and individuals will be availed to plant the remaining saplings.
In his message at the campaign launch, the Malakand commissioner stressed on proper care for the newly-planted saplings and said that only proper nurturing and concentration from the forest department will ensure success.
“Our once thick forests are on the verge of disappearing because of illegal logging in which a well-oiled group of timber smugglers is involved. If this logging continues and the concerned departments do not take proper steps to stop it, our forest will turn into graveyards,” said Sohail Jan, an agriculture researcher. He added that along with large-scale tree plantation, effective protection on the part of the Forest Department is needed.
Akhtar Ali, a group leader of the Swat Scouts Open Group (SSOG), the largest social work organisation for young people in the valley, showed interest in tree plantation.
He said that scouts have always taken an active part in plantation campaigns for many years and they are ready to work with the department again.
“We have a lot of manpower in the form of scouts from various schools and other segments of society to take part in the campaign. Our scouts are not only enthusiastic about serving the nation but have also been trained on tree plantation,” he said.
The experts also said that with the new plantation, awareness campaigns regarding importance of forests and trees should also be launched for the public and an effective mechanism should be chalked out to curb felling and smuggling of precious trees.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2012.