Chitral - Chitral Gol National Park holds international significance as the habitat of Pakistan’s national animal, the Kashmir Markhor. It is also home to the national tree, Deodar, the national flower, Chanbeli, and the national bird, Chakor.
According to Altaf Ali Shah, Divisional Forest Officer, Wildlife, Chitral Gol National Park, the core zone of this park covers an area of 7,750 hectares, while the later- added buffer zone spans 50,000 hectares. Besides the Markhor, the park is home to wildlife such as the Himalayan lynx, snow leopard, wolf, jackal, and marmot.
Mr. Shah noted that 2,278 Markhors inhabit the park. Some areas within the park had deteriorated, posing a threat to wildlife. Dense forests provide safety and sustenance for wildlife, especially in winter when heavy snowfall occurs. Evergreen oak trees are essential for Markhors’ survival, as they feed on their leaves.
Forest Conservator Shaukat Fayaz of Malakand Forest Division, present during a plantation drive, emphasized the importance of trees in our lives. He mentioned that the forests in Chitral are burdened, particularly in winter when people resort to burning oak forests for firewood to combat the cold.
To address this, he suggested providing cheap electricity or gas to the people of Chitral for cooking and heating purposes, reducing the pressure on forests.
Officials from the Forest Department and volunteers from the Al-Khidmat Foundation participated in the plantation campaign, during which 3,000 Deodar saplings were planted at Chitral Gol National Park. It is expected that as these saplings grow into trees, a dense forest will emerge, benefitting both the environment and wildlife.