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Reversing Deforestation in Chilgoza Pine Forests by Assisting the Local Community

10/10/2019

The Chilgoza forests are mainly located in the dry temperate zone of Pakistan, where there is less rainfall compared to snowfall. Chilgoza trees grow between 2000 to 3350m above sea level in the Hindukush- Karakoram-Himalaya region of North Pakistan. Chilgoza pine forests hold tremendous importance from both ecological and socio-economic perspectives, occupying a critical niche spanning protection and productive landscape and rangeland management. The potential economic benefit is worth billions of rupees per year contributing to local livelihoods. Chilgoza forests are also viewed as important for the maintenance and protection of vital ecosystem services (e.g. carbon storage, soil and flood protection, water recharge, regulation of downstream flows essential to human consumption, irrigation and hydro power generation).

The project Reversing Deforestation and Degradation in High Conservation Value Chilgoza Pine Forests in Pakistan is working to improve sustainable management of Chilgoza forests leading to the generation of multiple products, services, and functions including improved local livelihoods through Chilgoza nut value addition and value chain development. The sustainable management of the Chilgoza forests will also result in reducing Green House Gas Emissions.

Chilgoza cone collection from the tree is a crucial step in harvesting the nut, Crude methods of cone collection were used in the past, where the whole branch, and in some cases the entire tree was cut. This was one of the major reasons for Chilgoza forest degradation with negative repercussions on the health of the crop, and implications of cone production. The Chilgoza GEF project is addressing this issue by providing training and Chilgoza harvesting tool kits which can be used for sustainable cone collection and collector safety. The project distributed 150 sites of these tool kits to members of Chilgoza Forest Conservation and Protection, including women, across the project area. Necessary trainings to 250 cone collectors including 30 women for the use of these tools were also provided across ten locations.
Ceremonies were held simultaneously in Zhob, Wana, Chitral, and Chilas, They were attended by the districts administration, political leaders, line department staff, local community organizations, and Chilgoza forest conservation and protection committees.

Under the program, the key deliverables are preparation of Chilgoza management and utilization plans, valuation of Chilgoza forest production, services and functions, value addition and value chain development, introduction of payment for ecosystem services, and ensuring that 30,000 hectares of Chilgoza forest is sustainably managed. It is also working to restore 4400 hectares of forest area while 3600 hectares will be improved through assisted natural regeneration. The above restoration initiatives will contribute an estimated 23.2 million seedlings to the ten Billion Programme.  

The project contributes to the restoration, protection and sustainable management of Chilgoza pine forests to provide global environmental benefits as well as enhanced resilience and livelihoods to local stakeholders.