The Juniper Forests of Harboi Kalat Balochistan

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Pakistan has a forest cover of only 4.8 per cent of total land area, far below the optimal standard of 25 per cent forest cover for a country. Most of the natural forests of the country are concentrated in the mountainous regions of the north, covering Himalaya and Karakoram ranges.

The Juniper Forests of Balochistan

Juniper trees are considered among the oldest growing tree species often termed as living fossils and can live for more than 3,000 years. Junipers are found in Ziarat, Kalat (Harboi), Quetta (Tor Shor) and Mastung (Zarakhoo) areas of Balochistan.

Juniper trees grow in less humid areas located at an elevation of 7000-8000 feet above sea level.  Average annual growth of a juniper tree is 25 mm in length and 1 mm in breadth. Many trees in Balochistan are as old as 5000-7000 years.

The Juniper Forests of Ziarat

In Ziarat District, a 247,000-acre forest of juniper trees, some of which are thousands of years old.

The Juniper forest in Ziarat Valley is spread over merely eight square kilometres, while the juniper forest in Kalat’s Harboi Hills is spread over 30 square kilometres.

The International Coordinating Council of Man and Biosphere (ICCMAB) Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared Ziarat Juniper Forest the second Biosphere Reserve and has included it in its World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

According to the National Conservation Strategy, Balochistan’s juniper forests are the most endangered ecosystem in Pakistan.

The Juniper Forests of Harboi

Harboi is a mountain range located in the Kalat district of Balochistan, Pakistan. It is located at 29°3’0 N 66°43’0 E and is 9,000 feet high. The Harboi contains juniper trees and picturesque scenery.

Harboi’s juniper forest, one of the rare and centuries’ old forests in the world, stands at 9,000 feet above sea level, covering around 55,230 acres.

The notified area (55,230 acres) of Harboi which were notified in 1961 but the area with juniper trees spreads over 253,000 acres. This mountain range of Harboi begins from Deghari area of Dashat to Zehri of Khuzdar District.

There are trees other than junipers that are native to Harboi. There are around five natural streams which flow all year round. There are also wild animals here.

Virgin Juniper Forest at Apurhsi

The word Apurhs (also Hapurs) is the Brahvi Language word for a juniper tree. An area of 57,000 acres of lush-green virgin juniper forests is found at Apurhsi (Hapursi) Kalat district. The area is surrounded by hills. Water is scarce here. If available then it is brackish.

Apurhsi is located at a distance of 62 km in the NE of Kalat City toward Zehri. The main area of Apurhsi is not accessed via vehicles and is a tough track to reach it. It is completely protected (rakh – the Brahvi word for the protected area) from external threats like lopping or fellings.

The area of Apurhsi juniper forests is accessed via camel/donkey ride or on-foot track. The area is under the control of Zehri (Zarak Zai) tribe. Private Forest Guards are protecting the area.

All sorts of cutting/lopping etc are not allowed in Apurhsi. Besides, the extraction of wood, even dead/diseased/dry is not allowed.

At Apurhsi, wildlife including chukar (chakor), partridges, hares, etc and any activity of hunting is prohibited here.

Since the forest is of community nature, so grazing is allowed in some parts of the area.

Reasons for the Illicit Cuttings of the Juniper Forests of Harboi

The Juniper Forests of Harboi are facing numerous pressures. From illicit axing of these precious trees to the negligence from the authorities, the junipers are under heavy threat of being eliminated. Some of the worth mentioning reasons are as under:

  • The neighbouring towns and cities of Juniper zones have no access to no natural gas notwithstanding the fact that Sui-gas was discovered in Dera Bugti as early as 1952. Even in Kalat District, there is no gas availability, especially during the under-zero temperatures. The residents of these towns and cities turn to the trees of Harboi for fuel.
  • When residents go for picnics to Harboi, they do not buy firewood. They chop juniper trees and use as firewood.
  • For a normal common man, the source of income is more important than juniper trees. Poor people around Harboi are not provided with the basic necessities of life. Thus, they use the juniper forests for fuel, shelter and use as firewood for daily use.
  • From management points of view, for decades, no Working Plan of juniper forests was developed to record data, to measure or observe increase or decrees of Harboi and find out the reasons and plan new policies.
  • Harboi juniper forests are less explored because of the law and order situation and experts prefer to consider Ziarat junipers over Kalat junipers.
  • The juniper forests have suffered from temperature rises and drought since 1994. Snowfall and rainfall patterns have become irregular. Before the drought, snow fell regularly in winter months.
  • The use of banned sprays on nearby apple orchards creates diseases amongst juniper trees. Pakistan is one of the few countries where banned agriculture sprays are used.
  • The area is under heavy grazing and human pressure due to lopping and uprooting of plants for fuel forage and medicinal purposes.
  • The axing of juniper trees continues around Harboi. Villagers also cut the trees for shelter besides firewood in extremely cold weather, when the temperature is sub-zero in the entire valley.

Conclusion

Apart from their ecological values, junipers also play a vital role in recharging groundwater, controlling erosion, countering harsh impacts of climate change, and the habitat of wildlife. If deforestation is not stopped we would be deprived of these huge assets.

The juniper forests both in Kalat and Ziarat need special attention, especially in regards to funding and to finding a way to stop them drying up, or villagers using the forest as firewood.

Harboi Kalat Model - forestrypedia.com
Harboi Model

SEE ALSO: Forests in Balochistan

Courtesy:

  • Balochistan Point
  • Mr Sher Ahmed Kurd (Divisional Forest Officer Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department).

Juniper Forests of Balochistan – FAQ

Where juniper forests are found in Pakistan?

In Pakistan, Juniper Forests are found in Ziarat and Kalat districts of Balochistan.

What is the annural growth rate of juniper trees?

The average annual growth of a juniper tree is 25 mm in length and 1 mm in breadth.

At which elevation juniper trees grow?

Juniper trees grow in less humid areas located at an elevation of 7000-8000 feet above sea level. 

What is the area of juniper forests in Ziarat District?

In Ziarat District, a 247,000-acre forest of juniper trees, some of which are thousands of years old.

Are juniper forests of Ziarat are declared as Biosphere Reserve?

The International Coordinating Council of Man and Biosphere (ICCMAB) Program of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has declared Ziarat Juniper Forest the second Biosphere Reserve and has included it in its World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Where in Balochistan juniper forests are found apart from Ziarat district?

Juniper forests are found at Harboi. Harboi is a mountain range located in the Kalat district of Balochistan, Pakistan. It is located at 29°3’0 N 66°43’0 E and is 9,000 feet high.

What is the notified area of Harboi juniper forests?

The notified area of Harboi is 55,230 acres which were notified in 1961 but the area with juniper trees spreads over 200,000 acres.

What is BFWD?

BFWD is the short form of Balochistan Forest and Wildlife Department.


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Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani

NJMH is working as Deputy Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu (techurdu.net) Forestrypedia (forestrypedia.com), Majestic Pakistan (majesticpakistan.pk), All Pak Notifications (allpaknotifications.com), Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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