Punjab govt takes matchless initiatives for evolution of forests, wildlife and fisheries

 
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Lahore, August 30 (TNS): Shahbaz Sharif led Punjab government making efforts to conserve, develop and manage forest resources on sustainable basis to contribute in the socio-economic development of present and future generations.

The government is spending millions of rupees for planting of 12 million saplings during Tree Plantation Campaigns which are is in progress for Enhancing Tree Cover in Punjab Industrial Plantation on retrieved land under Public Private Partnership Eco Friendly Forest Parks at Murree and improvement of facilities in forest parks.

Trees play important role towards environment improvement. To increase the tree cover, 2530 acres plantation is being established under the Chief Minister’s special initiative for mass afforestation in Punjab. It shall improve the environmental and aesthetic conditions of the area and will yield tremendous financial returns and economic benefits through production of wood and wood products. It will also provide wildlife habitat and thus conserve the flora and fauna. It shall also provide employment opportunities to the local people. The period of this activity is 2013-14 to 2017-18.
The plantation work over an area of 250 acres is nearly completed. The department has also launched spring TREE PLANTING CAMPAIGN during which 12 million saplings will be planted, out of which 7.08 million saplings have already been planted.

4296 acres area has been retrieved from the encroachers out of which afforestation on 932 acres area is in progress.
To boost up the local inhabitants socially, the department is making efforts to maintain and develop the forests parks on modernized footings to improve the recreation facility. Plan to develop eco-friendly forest park at Murree is one of the initiative of the department.
To bridge the gap between the demand and supply of timber and firewood requirements of the inhabitants industrial plantations is being carried out on the blank forest areas as well as on the land retrieved from the illegal occupants.

For the purpose of industrial plantation, tree species with short rotation are being planted. They will help to provide the raw material for the wood based industries and to generate the employment opportunities besides adding lot towards enhancement of tree cover.
Private investment in forestry under PPP mode is also being encouraged. Plantation over an area of 240 acres with the co-operation of Engro polymer Chemicals (Pvt Ltd) has been carried out at Changa Manga. Initiatives like this will help to bring the barren land under green cover. Financial constraints faced by the government towards tree plantations could be minimized.
The major functions of Punjab Forest and Wildlifr department are to raise new forest and scientific management of existing public forest to maximize the production of wood and minor forest produce in the irrigated plantation having area up to 2000 acres
It is working for raising and promotion of roadside plantation of local / district significance and promotion of social / farm forestry in private lands, rising of forest nurseries, Establishment of amenity forest and recreational parks.

GIS Lab has been established under Chief Minister’s Initiative in Punjab Forest Department. In phase-I the GIS base mapping of six plantations were completed, District wise land cover atlas of Punjab was prepared using Landsat imagery, Forest area book with respect to forest type and legal status was prepared for the first time.
Imparted GIS training to 500 Officers and officials of the Department. During current year Forest type atlas consisting of area and location of forests has been prepared.
Moreover training of the trainers to 96 persons has been imparted regarding GIS and GPS. Basic forest data as well as revenue record of 34 forest divisions is being collected and compiled. Resultantly the management, conservation and protection of forests has improved GIS base mapping of seven major irrigated and seven riverain plantations over an area of 61799 acres and fixation of 1880 boundary pillars along boundaries of various forests in D.G. Khan, Rawalpindi circle and Bhakkar Range Managemnet Division are in progress, beside procurement of equipments to strengthen the forest GIS Lab. An area of 160804 acres will be tackled in future for mapping.
Similarly, Punjab government working for protection, preservation, conservation and Management of wildlife diversity, habitats and ensure its sustainable development.
For public recreation and to protect endangered species, following Zoos and Safari parks have been established by the Wildlife Department, Punjab.

Wildlife Department encompasses following areas throughout Province i.e. as 12-Wildlife Parks, 37-Sanctuaries, 24-Game Reserves are home to the Wildlife, where wild species are free ranging in nature or maximum closed to nature in parks. The 03-Zoos / 01-Safari Zoo are also the area where some critically endangered or rare species are being bred under captive management and also rehabilitated in wildlife parks / zoos for replenishing wild stock maintained for future needs. The Department is endeavoring to protect conserve and maintain existing wildlife species on sustainable basis in view of the wider conservation maintained among the threatened or endangered species i.e. Urial have been bred, successfully with the help of CBOS in their respective areas. As such periodically liaison with the National and International organization is reviewed for exchange of the animals most wanted in zoos / parks and as such the status of wildlife in the Province is in progress and improving. The department has so far achieved successful breeding of various animals and birds in Wildlife Parks/Zoos like Hog Deer, Blue Bull, Chinkara, Nil Gai, Urial, Ring-necked Pheasants, Peafowls etc. However, local captive bred animal stock, Safari Hunting’s / Pheasant Shootings taken place in the past at Khanewal, Pirowal forest reserves and as well Pheasant Shooting held at Kallar Kahar, Sardi and Dohk Tallian, Chakwal.

The Punjab government has an extensive expanse of fisheries resources with great potential. The major natural resources are Rivers, Canals, Reservoirs, Lakes, Water Logged Areas and others. covering a total area of about 3 million hectares (7.5 million acres). Besides sustainable exploitation of natural resources, the fish culture activities in private sector have been considerably increased in the last two decades. At present about 56,540 acres have been brought under fish culture and more than 50% fish is coming from private fish farms.