Assignment Topic: RIVERINE FOTRESTS OF SINDH Submitted By: Class: Semester: Roll Number: ASHFAQ AHMED RAJPUT MSc. (Previous) Second (2nd) Semester 2K11/ENS/O7 SUBMITTED TO TEACHER: SIR SAEED AKHTAR ABRO 1 Contents FORESTS OF SINDH: Type of Forests in Sindh Riverine Forests History of Riverine Forests Features of Riverine Ecosystem Specific Features of Riverine Ecosystem FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DEGRADATION OF RIVERINE FORESTS Management Plans REFERENCE: 3 5 5 6 8 8 9 16 20 2 FORESTS OF SINDH:
Forest is a valuable resource which contributes significantly to economy and provides environmental stability, regional climate stability, regulates rainfall patterns and reduces sedimentation load in our rivers. The environmental pollution and climate change have become burning issue throughout the world and natural and human made disasters such as land erosion, flooding, agriculture, urbanization, unemployment (theft due to poverty), drought and global warming, have contributed to deforestation. The forests of Sindh since independence (1947) have undergone a considerable change in its resources.
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The forests of Sindh before World War-II were totally stocked. But due to extreme wartime stress and greater utilization of forest; were cause of reduction of natural resources. Sindh province occupies 14. 09 million ha of the lower Indus plain. Agriculture, forestry and pasture are three main land uses in the province. The Indus River traverse through Sindh like a mid-rib covering 865kms, from Guddu Barrage to Arabian Sea and is the only source of water for irrigation, forestry and human consumption. Riverine tract and delta formed by River Indus occupies a special significance in economy and ecology of Sindh province.
Agricultural expansion and subsequent industrial development has brought significant economic growth in the country over a period of time. But at the same time construction of irrigation development structures at the upper streams of river Indus and its tributaries for storage and diversion of water for agricultural use and power generation has reduced intensity and frequency of floods in lower Indus basin. The total land area of the province is 14. 09 million ha (34. 82 million acres) which forms 17. 7 per cent of the entire country.
It constitutes the lower part of the Indus Valley (Basin), widely considered in the world as the cradle of civilization. The province has 3 distinct physical regions- the alluvial plain located in the center, the rocky region in west, and the sandy desert in the east. Each region is described separately as under: 1. Central Alluvial Region The central region is a fertile alluvial plain through which flows the Indus River. The total area of this region is 8. 5 million ha that includes 0. 86 million ha riverine tract (Panhwar, 2004).
Three barrages have been constructed on the Indus River to divert river water for canal irrigation system emerging from these barrages. The main land use of this region is agriculture which is irrigated through one of the world’s most extensive and integrated irrigation network. The topography is flat with a gradient of 12 cm per kilometer from north 3 towards sea in the south. Out of total area of riverine tract, about 0. 24 million ha is under riverine forests, 0. 41 million ha is privately owned (Kabuli) land, 0. 16 million ha river bed, depressions (dhoras) and mud flats/sand bars and the remaining about 0. 4 million ha are either under villages, graveyards or unculturable wasteland (Panhwar, 2004). With the construction of barrages on river, the kacho area is divided in following three zones: • Area between Guddu and Sukkur barrages • Area between Sukkur and Kotri barrages • Area between Kotri barrage to mouth of Indus river The ecological features, biodiversity and socio-economic conditions of the above areas are dependent on water regime and make up three different subecosystems with varying characteristics and distinct environments. . Eastern Sandy Region All along the eastern side of the province flanking the central alluvial region, lies the sandy desert popularly known as “Thar Desert locally called Registan” This sandy region forms the western part of Great Indian Desert. The total area of this region is 3. 39 million ha (8. 38 million acres), which is further divided into Thar and Nara regions. The topography of the region is undulating with varying sizes of sand dunes. Rainfall is scanty and erratic and underground water is generally brackish.
Small areas along ridges and narrow valleys are cultivated by rainwater during monsoon period. The economy of Thar Desert is pastoral and the main land use is grazing. The dry weather, brackish ground water coupled with harsh and severs climatic conditions is unfavorable for growing crops, vegetation propagation or livestock rearing. 3. Western Hilly Region The western hilly region locally called as “Kohistan” is a part of the long Khirthar mountain range formation. This region occupies 2. 30 million ha (5. 4 million acres) constituting 15. 6 percent of total land area of the province. Ecologically it is categorized as a tropical sub-mountainous zone. Like sandy desert region, dry conditions prevail in this area resulting in similar living conditions. After agriculture, forestry is the other major land-use in centrally located plains. The Sindh Forest Department, manages 8% of the province of which only 2. 3% contain productive forests. Table gives the details of forest types and respective areas. 4 Type of Forests in Sindh
Type Productive Forests Riverine Forests * Irrigated Plantations Sub-total Protective Forests Mangrove Forests Rangelands Sub-total Total Area (in million acres) 0. 6 0. 2 0. 8 0. 85 1. 13 1. 98 2. 78 % of Total Land Area 1. 7% 0. 57% 2. 3% 2. 45% 3. 25% 5. 7% 8% Riverine Forests To protect the hinterlands from flooding, earthen embankments were erected on both sides of the River Indus 5 to 20 km apart during 1860 to 1960.. They are one of the important components of riverine belt and owe their existence to the uncontrolled flooding/inundation of Indus River.
Riverine forests spread over 0. 6 m acres (0. 24 m ha) are the mainstay of forestry in Sindh and entirely depend on the inundation waters received during monsoon season. All forestry operations are dependent on inundation supplies. The predominant species of Riverine forests are Acacia nilotica (Babul, Prosopis cineraria (Kandi), Tamarix aphylla (Lawa), Tamarix dioca (Lai) and Populus euphratica (Bahan) confined to well drain high silt containing stabilized kacho areas. Mesquite growth has invaded high lying areas which is quite useful for fuelwood and charcoal making.
Irrigated Plantations After construction of bunds (earthen embankments) along both sides of Indus River, 81,200 ha of Riverine forest were rendered as inland forests and with the construction of three barrages on Indus River for diverting river water for agriculture, canal water was allocated for many inland forests for converting these in to Irrigated Plantations. Inland forests falling in the command of each barrage are as under: 1. Guddu Barrage command area = 0. 02 million ha (0. 05 million acres) 2. Sukkur Barrage command area = 0. 04 million ha (0. 09 million acres) 3. Kotri Barrage command area = 0. 03 million ha (0. 7 million acres) ———————————————Total 0. 08 million ha (0. 20 million acres) 5 The concept of irrigated forestry was introduced during the British Rule with an objective of supplying firewood to railways, steam boats and ships and fuel wood for military cantonments in the territory of Sindh then part of Bombay Presidency Species such as Acacia nilotica (Babul), Dalbergia sissoo (Shisham), Eucalyptus camaldulensis and Salmalia malabaricum (Simal) were planted in these plantations in varying proportions during different times under different conditions. History of Riverine Forests
Prior to the British conquest of Sindh, the annual inundations were practically unchecked throughout central alluvial plain of the Province. The forest growth covered all the land wherever water reached. Later on people cut forests, made temporary settlements and cultivated crops wherever they chose and were thus responsible for the separation of the wooded area into the patches and blocks which to a large extent characterizes the riverine tract today. Some of the riverine forests were reserved by the Mirs for purposes of the shikar (hunting), strictly protected under game laws and mud walls were erected around these confined areas.
These game preserves (shikargahs) became the nucleus of the present day forests after the conquest of Sindh by British in 1843. There is no record that when shikargahs were demarcated as forests, but in the year 1847 Major Scott was appointed the first Forest Ranger in Sindh. He was followed by Captain Crawford, Dr. Stocks the botanist, Captain Hamilton, and Mr. Dalzell another celebrated botanist. These two rangers demarcated all the shikargahs by erecting boundary marks. The occupation of Sindh by the British brought the ownership of land to the Crown.
The proclamation of Imperial Monarchy in 1858 through Queen’s declaration ushered in the British colonial outlook over Sindh as with other places in British India. The rich shikargahs and Moharies (Private shikargahs) were taken over for commercial exploitation for the production of firewood for flotillas. In 1861, Mr. Fenner was made in-charge of the forests. In 1862 the Forest Department was created and forests were transferred to the Forest Department from railway companies. General application of the Indian Forest Act in 1863, defined the procedure for declaration of certain lands as legally constituted forests.
In 1906, the Sindh Forest Department consisted of a Deputy Conservator of Forests in charge, responsible to the Commissioner in Sindh, and 4 officers’ incharge of divisions and one Superintendent of Forest Contour Surveys. Of this four, one officer was from the Imperial Forest Service and the rest were Extra Assistant Conservators of the Provincial Branch. There were 5 Rangers and 19 Foresters in charge of Ranges, of whom only 4 Rangers and 5 Foresters were trained from Forest Schools in Poona and Dehra Dun. There were 352 Forest Guards in charge of beats and depots (Aitken. E. H. 1907).
Prior to the conquest of Sindh by the British to 1860-61 nothing is known of the system under which these forests were managed, as no administration reports 6 are available for that period. However, these woodlands were being administered by local rulers and local communities for hunting and local wood consumption. The management from 1860 to 1895 also does not appear to have been based on any preconceived plan of harvesting and reproduction. Forests were exploited as convenient to meet the local demand from the population, Indus Flotilla Company, and subsequently for the state railway when railway took the place of steam boat navigation.
In earlier days, the methods of disposal adopted were the royalty and share systems, which were later substituted by departmental working. Departmental working continued up to 1901, when the system of selling coupes by tender or by auction was introduced. The first attempts at systematic management were made during the period 1875 to 1895. The main features were “rotational cutting” and “sustained yield”. Even those attempts were sporadic, as forests continued to be worked in parts within easy reach of the railway and the river. In 1891 Mr.
Hexton introduced some slight change in the working system; but both these plans had no advantage to the forests as prescriptions of the plans were not followed. The objective of introduction of systematic working was to produce fuel wood on sustained basis for Indus Flotilla Company and North Western Railway, which required a very large amount of wood fuel and to collect as much revenue as possible, without any consideration for improvement and conservation of forests. Systematic management commenced from 1896, when Mr. Desai obtained Government sanction for preparation of working plans under Forest Code.
Main features were clear felling in equal adjacent areas under a rotation of 30 years for babul and 10 years for kandi and lai. Regeneration was proposed by coppice, supplemented in places by sowings. This plan was followed up to 1900- 01, when first regular plan prepared by Mr. A. C. Robinson was sanctioned and put into force. Under Mr. Robinson’s plan, forests were mainly worked for the production of fuel wood. The method adopted was clear felling on equal adjacent areas on a rotation of 30 years. In a few forests the rotation was fixed at 20 years.
For timber, babul was reserved irrespective of its girth, age or condition. Regeneration was to be by coppice, supplemented in places by sowings. This plan remained in force up to 1917-18 and revised by Mr. D. L. Nawani for 1918 to1930 which was subsequently revised/written by Mr. C. G. Abichandani for the period 1936 to 1955-56 (for Sukkur, Shikarpur and Larkana districts). Three others plans for Hyderabad, Jherk and Naushahro were also brought into force in 1901, 1902 and 1908 respectively. Subsequently, the working plans for Lower Sindh were also re-written for the period up to 194950.
Since, the chief demand for wood was fuel particularly for railway, no provision was kept in the Plans for growing timbre trees, although railway had switched over coal and timber demand had arisen from the Gun Carriage Factory and expanding local market for large size babul (Gazetteer of Sindh, 1906). Present Management of Riverine Forests 7 The object of management in these forests has been to generate/regenerate Acacia nilotica which is the most suitable tree species with short rotation period and high economic value.
Acacia nilotica takes a longer time to grow or regenerate in its natural succession as it follows a growth cycle which is preceded by Tamarix (Lai), Saccharum (Kana) and Populus euphratica (Bahan) growth. Acacia nilotica regenerates when favourable conditions and new soil formation are created in the riverine tract. In order to hasten the process and grow Acacia in a shorter period, broadcast sowing is done in muddy waters during recession of floods each year. Management practices have been simple and time tested.
The forests areas on attaining rotation period are marked for clear felling in the form of 64 ha (one compartment) or smaller coupes for felling operations. Clear felled coupes/areas and newly stabilized kacha areas are regenerated after inundation recedes after peak flood season. The complete regeneration process has been dealt in this chapter in the description artificial regeneration in riverine forests. Features of Riverine Ecosystem Riverine Forests are a landscape having the soil, climate and set of organisms that make it a typical forest ecosystem.
In this complex ecosystem, plants, animals, and microbial communities dominated by trees occur naturally or with artificial management/assistance. Following these forests provides variety of functions and is an assemblage of living organisms together with their nonliving environment. Total environment includes the climate, physical components of the soil and the topography (the non-living, or abiotic components of environment) and all the other organisms (plants, animals, and microbes) that help or hinder them, feed them or feed on them, protect them or are protected by them. Specific Features of Riverine Ecosystem
The main features of an ecosystem are: structure, function, complexity, biodiversity, interaction of components and tendency to change over time. Both the vertical and horizontal structures of the plant community are important ecosystem characteristics. Vertical structure refers to vertical layering of different types of trees/plants in the community whereas the horizontal structure refers to canopy levels of shrubs, herbs, microbes/moss available on the forest floor. Riverine ecosystems are natural biomass factory as they produce plant biomass, animal biomass, and microbial biomass.
They produce energy from foliage and also capture chemical energy from solar system. Riverine forests are complex ecosystem as they are composed of many individual structural components that interact to determine ecosystem function. Riverine ecosystem is a pool of biodiversity of living organisms such as trees, shrubs, wildlife, insects, fish, cultivated crops, livestock etc. Their entire biotic and abiotic components are dependent upon each other. Any positive or negative impact/influence upon any component of the system results in 8 mbalances in the ecosystems function and productivity. Riverine ecosystem is not static but has a tendency to change with passage of time and natural and manmade influences creating disturbances. The ecosystem reverts back to its normalcy if external influences are minimized. ? Source of Timber and Fuel wood The riverine forests are the mainstay of forestry and a major source of timber and fuel wood particularly for mining timber in Sindh and Balochistan. For meeting the increasing energy demand in the country, greater emphasis has to be given to this cheap renewable energy resource.
These forests in the past were extensive and very productive and been a source of fuel wood/charcoal to the Middle East countries and some towns in India besides meeting the needs of local population. ? Habitat for Wildlife The riverine forests have remained important habitats for wide range of mammals and reptiles notably the Hog deer (Axis porcinus) which has managed to survive in the shrinking riverine forests. This species is near extinction due to shrinking habitat, food scarcity, illegal hunting and expansion of agriculture in Kacho areas and needs to be protected. Besides, ild boars, partridges, Sand grouse, wolves, jackals, porcupines etc. also inhabit riverine forests. ? Environmental Amelioration The riverine Forests are a vital component of riverine land ecosystem that lessen the impact of diurnal temperatures, sequester CO2, and retain soil moisture. ? Livestock Grazing Riverine forests were used to be the major source of livestock grazing. The Babul pods and leaves are nutritious and favourable fodder particularly for goat and sheep. Besides, abundant grasses, wild herbs, shrubs, etc. growing after floods and rainfall are source of fodder for the livestock and wild animals. Minor Products There are several Dhands (Natural lakes) and Dhoras (abandoned river beds) in riverine areas, some of which store water round the year and are the source of fish and employment. In addition, these forests produce Honey, Gum, Lac, Medicinal herbs and bark for tannin. FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR DEGRADATION OF RIVERINE FORESTS Historically, the riverine ecosystem of Sindh was productive and economically viable, but the climatic changes, socio-economic pressures and disturbances 9 caused by natural and anthropogenic factors have significantly depleted and degraded this ecosystem.
The ecosystem functions as a web or chain where the climatic and biotic factors function as its string (Stoszek, 1991). Any natural or artificial change in any factor disturbs the whole web. Higher the disturbance, the greater the complexity of interactions within the ecosystem results in a catastrophe. In this case, the most affected components of ecosystem are the living organisms. The factors described here are both natural and manmade but their extent has been exacerbated by the intentional and un-intentional activities of human beings. Main Degradation Factors and Consequences ?
Population Pressure on Riverine Forests Sindh is the most populous and urbanized province of Pakistan. According to 1998 census, it accommodates 30. 4 million people with a density of 135 persons per sq. km. This population is 23% of country’s total population of which 48. 9% resides in urban areas. With the annual growth rate of 2. 8 percent, the projected population of the province will reach 43 million and 56 million in the years 2010 and 2020, respectively (IUCN, 2004). The dependence of 72% of population is upon agriculture which is mostly practices in central zone of the province.
Hence, irrigated tract is thickly populated and has a direct pressure on riverine ecosystem. The degradation of riverine forests has accelerated mainly due to ever increasing population. Although all the components of riverine ecosystem have been affected due to population pressure, the trees are badly affected. Since the requirement of domestic fuel wood as well as livelihood needs is met from indiscriminate tree cutting, the entire ecosystem has been disturbed. People have also encroached upon forestland for agriculture purposes. The study reveals that more than 40,000 ha of riverine forests of Sindh have been encroached.
The impact of this action has emerged in the form of overall degradation of the riverine ecosystem by destruction of wildlife habitat, disappearance of associated fauna and flora, reduction in gene pool, degradation of soil; change of micro climate and over all environment of the region. This has resulted in reducing the vertical and horizontal structures of riverine ecosystem. ? Goods Riverine forests produce and provide several goods such as wood (fuel wood and timber) , agriculture, livestock grazing, fodder, seed, medicinal plants, wildlife hunting etc. or meeting the local, regional and national consumption. ? Services Services include employment opportunities through forestry operations and agriculture practiced over forestlands. ? Climatic Factors 10 The vegetation is a function of soil, climate, parent material, topography, biota and time. Of these factors, climate is generally accepted as one of the major determinants of vegetation type (Kimmins, 1987). It influences the suitability and productivity of tree species on a particular site and it affects every aspect of forest management from regeneration to harvesting.
The main components of the climate discussed and analyzed are rainfall, temperature, wind, humidity and their interaction with respect to availability and duration of water for the growth and survival of riverine forests. All these factors have direct and or indirect influence on the occurrence and growth of different species in these forests. There has been a significant deterioration in Riverine ecosystem due to climatic factors over time. ? Rainfall The rainfall in Sindh is scanty and alone does not meet the moisture requirement of trees for their required growth.
The rainfall data of the province indicates that its northern part receives almost half the quantity of rainfall than its southern part, which significantly influences the growth and development of riverine forests. The rainfall mostly occurs during the monsoon season i. e. from June to August. The rest of the year remains mostly dry and unfavorable for tree growth. Predominant species in the riverine forests is Accacia nilotica (Babul) which requires sufficient moisture and does not grow in harshly dry conditions.
In the upstream Sukkur except for the low lying areas or areas in the immediate upstream of Sukkur barrage, Babul does not grow well and xerophytic Prosopis cineraria takes its place as dominant species and it is more conspicuous in the sites which are high lying and out of reach of normal inundation water. ? Temperature After rainfall, the periodical temperatures have influence and impact on overall climate of the lower Indus plain, which ultimately influences the riverine ecosystem in that area.
From the temperature point of view Sindh has two distinct portions/ parts i. e. upper Sindh and the Lower Sindh. The meteorological data indicate that there is no significant difference in mean annual temperatures between two eco-zones, but there is significant difference in hot and cold seasons. This variation in temperature associated with other factors such as biotic, edaphic and socioeconomic considerations influence the composition, distribution, growth and establishment of flora and fauna in general and tree species in particular.
Plants and tree species in riverine tract grow well in the temperature range of 23. 90 C to350 C (Troup, 1921). Hence, these areas are quite suitable for the growth and establishment of indigenous plant species. Effect of High Temperatures 11 The most common deleterious effects of high temperatures are the stimulation of the excessive respiration and the excessive loss of moisture (Kimmins, 1987). The effects of increased soil temperatures have significant influence on trees foliage of seedlings (regeneration areas) due to decreased soil moisture and the direct heat.
Effects of Low Temperatures The ability of plants to withstand freezing temperature is a function of its genetic potential and environmental factors which tend to condition tissue for cold treatment (Steponkus, 1981). Babul, the predominant tree species of riverine forests is a frost tender species. Large areas of young seedlings in the newly regenerated sites in the forests and farmlands are damaged or even killed due to injuries caused by persistent frost bites. The damage is at times so severe that younger plantations of Babul die back to the ground (Sirhindi and Keerio, 1985). Late frost is also common in the upper region of Sindh.
Frost is not of common occurrence below Kotri due to proximity of the Arabian Sea. ? Humidity and Wind Humidity and the wind are two important components of climate. Any change in the humidity ranges and wind velocity and directions, has influence over climatic pattern of that region. These two important factors also play a significant role in defining the climate of two ecological zones of Sindh. There is also significant difference in the climate of two ecological zones due to wind direction and velocity. In lower Sindh fast humid winds blow almost all time from May to September.
It is entirely insignificant as upper Sindh ecological zone is less humid and wind velocity is low and constantly normal. These two important factors of climate humidity and wind velocity and direction play significant role in the composition of flora and fauna on these two distinct ecological zones As to their impact on tree growth and its establishment, these two aspects have great influence of their own as well as collectively and interactively. The interaction of humidity and wind with the rainfall and temperature constitute the climatic pattern of the two zones varying in every constituent aspect.
There is also unmarked influence they impart on vegetation. One positive impact observed during the study was that the trees in height are taller and in girth sizeable and straight in the upstream ecological belt than that of trees found in down stream ecological belt. ? Water Distribution Issues and Impact on Riverine Forests Construction of Barrages and Dams on Indus The main source of water for the sustenance of riverine forests of Sindh is entirely dependent on summer inundations in Indus River.
The extent of river water volumes, frequencies and occurrences of floods determines the water regime required for regeneration, enrichment and growth of vegetation and 12 related components of riverine ecosystem. Riverine forests are fast deteriorating after the construction of upstream reservoirs that have significantly reduced the intensity, extent, and frequency of annual flooding. Diversions on Indus River due to the installation of canals and link canals have further worsened the on spot situation.
Due to excessive colonization brining more land under the plough, large quantities of the water is used for agricultural purpose and it has made it impossible to achieve the original Afforestation plan objective. The future development programmes of improving the depleted riverine forests is now entirely dependent on one specific need of availability of inundation water periodically for sustaining the vegetation of degraded forestlands. Assured water supplies for the riverine forests will only suffice for future viability and tentatively of tree growth in the lower Indus Basin.
A separate share of water for the lifelong need of these forests has to be earmarked and given priority to save the entire riverine ecosystem and tree growth in particular. Impacts A study was carried by Sindh Forest department to assess the damage caused by this long persistent drought in Riverine forests. The parameters of the study were existing stock and annual regeneration stocks. ? Setback in the Execution of Regeneration Operations The long persistent drought conditions also accounted for failure to undertake regeneration/reforestation programs as per management plans in the riverine forest areas. Government Policies The Riverine Forests have also suffered immensely on account of the policies of the incumbent government and at the altar of these policies; great losses were caused to the principles which regulate the scientific management of the riverine forests. ? Illegal Allotments by the Revenue Department Revenue department has made several allotments of forest areas to local people under land grant policy. Recently, expert allotments of forest lands have been made by the Revenue Department to local people.
Even such lands have been allotted which were in possession of the Forest Department for decades where well established growth existed and from where Forest Department has harvested its tree growth for more than two rotation cycles of 25 years each. This illegal action of the Revenue Department has encouraged many private parties to occupy the forest lands and has provided a tremendous setback to the riverine ecosystem. As reported by Sindh Forest department, more than 10,000 ha of forestland have been allotted to the local people by the Revenue Department. Reorganization of Forest Department 13 In the year 1973-74, the administrative set up of the Forest Department was reorganized from territorial to functional and two separate wings were created. The sale of standing tree growth to the forest contractors for regular felling operations were abolished and the department itself started functioning by carrying the regular felling operations in order to check the high handedness and illegal cutting of the forests by the unscrupulous contractors.
All operations required before and after harvesting were assigned to the officials working in functional group after reorganization of department. Forest material after cutting into required sizes was transported to depot through labor, where it was stacked and sold in open auction to the purchasers instead of auction of standing trees to the contractors. The Department was thus bifurcated into two different wings i. e. Afforestation and utilization wings.
The existing divisions were reorganized and areas increased largely to two fold, only to be managed by the same field staff with of course lesser responsibilities. The department suffered adversely as the protection of the vast number of forests by almost the same staff of original division resulted in poor performance and inadequate protection of the forest areas. After the ostensible success for initial couple of years, the very objective of departmental felling was defeated as the quantities of harvested material rarely exceeded from the estimated volume after the stock enumeration of felling coupes.
In the initial 2-3 years, easily accessible areas with quality class timber whose yield were 20-25% higher were extracted without following proper working plan or approved felling programme of the department. Adverse or Negative Impact of Re-organization on Riverine Forests In order to justify new system of departmental working of harvesting the trees, large areas were proposed for exploitation to achieve increases in the annual revenue targets without any consideration to the working plan prescriptions and scientific management.
The areas with better Babul growth, and easily accessible were cut in order to show large gains and prove usefulness of the new system. Due to these actions vast blank areas were created due to large scale harvesting. Because of inadequate and erratic flooding and non-availability of funds the regeneration programmes could not keep pace with the excessive harvestings resulted in creation of large blank chunks inside the riverine forests. This was the time when the local people generally and politician articularly raised voices against the working of the department and proposed that the vast blank areas inside the forests be brought under food crops and agriculture in order to meet the ever increasing demands of rising population. The policy of the Forest Department to change over to work on a functional basis created several problems and brought criticisms from all over (where). This problem was not foreseen in proper perspective while taking decisions and it emerges as one of the main causes of degeneration of riverine ecosystem and the forestry cover in Sindh.
Babul and Kandi, which are the dominant tree species have been adversely affected beyond repairs after the departmental 14 working on functional basis continued for several years without any considerations of annual possibilities of forests and other working plan prescriptions. ? Supply of Babul Timber for Railway Sleepers to Pakistan Railways and Cross Arms to WAPDA During this organizational setup, Sindh Forest Department took another decision of supplying railway sleepers and cross arms to Pakistan Railways and WAPDA, respectively.
In order to meet their demand large size specially selected Babul trees were felled from the riverine forests without following the working plan prescriptions. This decision of the department produced negative impact on the riverine forests of Sindh particularly such areas that were near the towns and accessible through roads. ? Mismanagement of NR during Coalition and Weak Governments Mismanagement of forests including illicit cutting, encroachments etc. have been rampant during coalition government rule that followed Army control of the government.
This has been significant from the years 1985 to 1988 and from 2000 to this day. Forests in general and riverine forests in particular have been put to great set back during this period. ? Forest Lease Policies Another setback received by the forestry resource, was that of changing polices regarding leases for agricultural purposes in the forest areas. This has become a political problem rather than an administrative. Due to land hunger for agricultural purposes and the fertile forest lands, there has been pressure from influential people for cultivation of agricultural crops on much relaxed terms during the last two decades.
There have been many changes in the government policies on forest leases for cultivation dictated by the influential persons and politicians. How these changes have affected the tree resources in Sindh forests and what changes in policies from time to time have been brought about in the system is analyzed below: ? Edaphic Factors and Their Impact on Riverine Forests Fire Tree growth is not a fire-resistant and is often burnt by fire. Forest fires are common in areas which have luxuriant growth of grasses. It is sometimes started by villagers to promote fresh grasses which sprout when dry and coarse grass is burnt.
Fires are also caused by people collecting honey (Sheikh, 1989). Since the adjoining lands have been converted into agricultural fields, the grazing pressure on remaining forestlands has increased Soil 15 Another factor affecting the growth and establishment of trees in riverine forests is the degradation of soil. Due to climatic and socio economic factors the productive capacity of some of the soils has been degenerated gradually affecting the reforestation and management practices in the riverine forests. ? Grazing Pressure on Riverine Forests In the riverine forests the main occupation of the population is livestock rearing.
People rear livestock to obtain milk, meat, wool and other products. Cattle also provide draught power for ploughing the fields and transportation of produce from farms to the markets. People of Sindh are fond of rearing these livestock animals. It is hard to find a household in riverine areas without at least 5-25 livestock. All the wooded areas are heavily surrounded by livestock populations viz. goats, cows, sheep, buffaloes, and camels. Babul and Kandi being a favourite fodder for browse animals specially goats and camel, it remains always under excessive use injurious for forest growth. Law and Order Situation in Riverine Forests Wooded lands, especially the riverine forests have remained hideouts for the dacoits for decades. But this activity has gained momentum in the last decade to such an extent that not only the dacoits are using the wooded areas as their hideouts from the law enforcing agencies, but also abduction of innocent people for ransom has become a common practice. Even Forest Department personnel are not safe to move and perform duties freely in many areas. The situation is quite alarming in upper Sindh than that of lower Sindh.
It has created several problems for the functionaries of the Forest Department and other departments concerning with law and order maintenance. The management operations in the riverine forests have been hampered to great extent. On the other hand due to the ineffectiveness of the forest personnel in some forests, the cases of unauthorized encroachments, cutting of trees and theft of wood have become common and uncontrollable which has played havoc with the protection of wooded area of riverine forests. Management Plans After a lapse of two decades, Forest Department prepared management plans for all its forests in 2001 for 10 years.
As per prescription of the plans, several thousand new and harvested areas were to be planted in plan period. It was observed during the study that most of the areas have been harvested with planting of same and other new areas due to non-availability of flood water and other social problems. Hence, these plans need immediate revision to reassess the stocking and prepare new strategy. Development Recommendations 16 ? Establishment of Irrigated Plantations over Riverine Forestlands The major expenditure required for the establishment of irrigated plantations in Riverine tract is lifting of irrigation water and development / leveling of land.
Therefore, propagation of forests through inundation is the most economic method for establishing forests in Riverine areas. The floods not only bring sweet water in abundance but also juvenile the soils by depositing the mineral rich silt on regular basis. Since the intensity and extent of inundations have reduced in recent years, it is therefore proposed that all the easily accessible medium level areas where sweet water through lifting is available and receive floods at an interval of 3-4 years shall be developed and managed as short rotation irrigated plantations.
If these plantations receive inundation two times in the rotation of 6 years, substantial cost for lifting water is saved and land once developed will require less cost for subsequent plantings. To economize water in initial two years, planting shall be done on trench irrigation system instead of flood irrigation layout system. ? Development of Wood lots on Forest Margins/rims The principle of development in riverine forests should be to combine conservation with development.
In order to decrease the pressure on riverine forests and restore their productivity, the farm forestry and participatory forestry should be popularized on the margins/boundaries of riverine forests to meet their domestic needs. Incentives shall be provided by the government to promote farm forestry on private lands and community based woodlots on state arable lands to meet their fuel wood needs. ? Participatory Extension Service Prior to devolution the extension/social forestry service was with the forest department wherein the social forestry wing was created to popularize forestry on the farmlands.
At present extension service of the department has been devolved to local government where only raising of saplings in the nurseries is being done without any approach to the farming community or other target groups to grow trees in the agricultural systems. Both the above stated approaches were without integration of principles of natural and social dimensions in the forestry development. Hence, Forestry extension services be strengthened and reorganized in order to provide technical and material assistance to the farmers for the promotion of tree growth in riverine tract, marginal and wastelands through people’s participation. Research Recommendation Management based on sound research is always sustainable. Developing the foundation for ecosystem management will require not only sound research but the updated knowledge and understanding of how major ecosystems function; how they can support and tolerate human use, how policies and management 17 decisions affect resource use is imperative. Research is also an essential part of development activity as it guides the managers to amend/change management strategies and if necessary policies to manage the resource.
During the course of this study it has been revealed that no research on any aspect of riverine forest resource/ecosystem has been carried out. Research on technical, biological, socio-economic and policy aspects is necessitated in order to raise the productivity of riverine species for meeting basic rural needs. Some recommendations are proposed as under: ? In riverine forest ecosystems the research should emphasize on studies, especially those that identify and analyze the causes of success and failure in forest development.
Case studies are particularly needed in areas of community management, production, forest dependency, sustainable utilization, equity and benefit sharing in marketing aspects of forest resources. There is also need to develop case studies that describe and analyze the marketing channels from collectors/producers to consumers. ? Research should also be carried out on the impacts of water shortage on the forest resource particularly on biodiversity; ecosystem functions, and suggests measures to make the ecosystem functional and productive. Research on supply and demand of main forest products and nonwood forest resources currently and in the future is also required. ? Research on appropriate technologies for non-wood forest products their harvest, use and processing is also recommended. ? Surveys and analyses of the degree and extent of the subsistence and local use of forest products, marketing, comprehensive inventories and assessments should be conducted. ? Research is required to find out the economic rotation of all species of riverine forests particularly management of mesquite which is encroaching vast riverine areas and is the main source of woodfuel. Research trials for growing of suitable xerophytic species are conducted in riverine areas. Management Decisions ? Political Will No policy can be implemented until and unless there is a political will in the country. Hence, sound planning and policies can bring no result unless they are implemented in its true spirit. The cause of degeneration in recent past was that there was no political will to bring any change for the betterment of natural resource. ? Data Base 18
There is dearth of database pertaining to different factors affecting riverine forests such as ecological, social, economic, technical, biotic and edaphic in the region. Hence, for the future development a data bank should be created in the Forestry Department. ? Monitoring and Evaluation Organizational effectiveness through enhancing the monitoring and evaluation efforts to achieve departmental goals including ecosystem health and sustainability by expanding collaboration among researchers, scientists and practitioners is needed. Moreover, forest cover shall regularly be monitored using GIS. Execution of Agroforestry Policy Agroforestry lease policy which is one of the main tools for developing and managing riverine forests shall be Proper implementation of implemented in its real perspective in wherein, lease holders shall raise and maintain block plantation on required area and hand over the same to the department as per terms of the agreement. ? Industrial Plantations Forest Department shall earmark some of its high-lying areas for long term leasing to Industrialists for raising plantations to produce raw material for wood based industries. ? Law &
Order Situation Security and free movement are the basic requirement for any development and management. It is, therefore, essential to improve and maintain law and order situation and provide required assistance to Forest staff to enforce writ of law in vacating encroachments, implementing Agroforestry policy and check wood cutting in forests. ? Seed Bank Presently there is no seed bank in Forest Department. In years, when high inundations are received or in bad seed years, sufficient seed is not available to meet the seed requirement for meeting planting targets.
It is, therefore, essential that a seed bank should be developed where large quantity of quality seeds is stored for planting, sowing and supply to farmers. ? Conservation Areas Prior to the construction of barrages and reservoirs, there were several contiguous blocks of luxuriant riverine forests all along Indus River. In present scenario very few such scattered patches could be found only upstream Sukkur. Hence it is proposed that some conservation areas be developed for research, study and to evaluate the effects of human use and habitation on the sustainability of ecosystems.
Besides, areas under the most intense environmental and social pressures needing protection should be determined and bilateral and multilateral assistance for strengthening forestry sector 19 planning and management should be coordinated. Areas under the most intense environmental and social pressures needing protection should be determined and bilateral and multilateral assistance for strengthening forestry sector planning and management should be coordinated. Wilderness / Recreation Riverine ecosystem provides multiple benefits in the form of water, wood, wildlife, recreation, minerals, etc. If law and order situation is improved and security is provided to the civil society, riverine areas can be developed as fascinating recreation places for urban population that afford and need to get out of concrete jungles for some time. REFERENCE: ? foreverindus. org/pdf/riverine_forest%20updownstream2008. pdf ? http://www. scribd. com/doc/60469789/Habibullah-AbbasiEnvironmental-Science 20