`Hundreds of Native Olive Trees Burned in Balochistan Wildfires - Olive Oil Times

Hundreds of Native Olive Trees Burned in Balochistan Wildfires

Jun. 10, 2022
Paolo DeAndreis

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Pakistani offi­cials strug­gle to esti­mate the full extent of the dam­age caused by exten­sive wild­fires, which burned hun­dreds of thou­sands of trees in the Koh-e-Sulaiman moun­tain range in the west­ern Balochistan region.

The blaze has rav­aged what many con­sider the largest chilgo­zha pine nut for­est in the world. Local sources believe that at least 40 per­cent of that for­est was burned down.

With it, many olive trees were also destroyed by the flames. The local sources added that the eco­nomic down­turn caused by the dev­as­ta­tion will be felt for gen­er­a­tions.

See Also:Extreme Weather Events Are Getting Worse, Affecting Food Availability, Report Finds

Local experts inter­viewed by TheDawn mag­a­zine warned that the pro­longed drought com­bined with a record heat­wave trig­gered the mas­sive blaze.

Kamran Hussain, a World Wildlife Fund researcher, said the fire sea­son in Pakistan started ear­lier than usual because of cli­mate change.

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The scorch­ing heat sucks all water from the veg­e­ta­tion leav­ing it dry and increas­ing the chances of fires,” he said.

The Pakistani gov­ern­ment con­firmed that three peo­ple were killed while try­ing to stop the flames.

The wild­fire spread from neigh­bor­ing woods to Koh-e-Sulaiman, a national park at a high alti­tude that is con­sid­ered a unique envi­ron­ment for many flora and fauna species. There, the flames were fueled by the strong winds.

Local experts believe that the dev­as­ta­tion caused by the fire will severely impact the liveli­hoods of the area’s res­i­dents, many of whom are involved in forestry-related activ­i­ties. The Shirani for­est extends for about 260 square kilo­me­ters and rep­re­sents a large por­tion of Balochistan for­est, cov­er­ing about 1.4 per­cent of the region.

Media reports also indi­cated that as many as 800 olive trees were destroyed by the wild­fires in the his­toric Musakhail for­est, which has been home to olive trees for 500 years.

The Pakistani gov­ern­ment iden­ti­fied the region for the expan­sion of the country’s olive groves due to the appro­pri­ate cli­mate, and eco­nomic oppor­tu­ni­ties olive cul­ti­va­tion is expected to bring to the area.

Muhammad Yahya, the provin­cial coor­di­na­tor of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, told TheDawn that what hap­pened in the park could be far from over.

There are still trees that are burn­ing, and sparks of fire are still erupt­ing from them,” he said. The trees are throw­ing off their flames, putting the other veg­e­ta­tion at risk. And this increases the threat of another fire break­ing out in the for­est if not con­tained in time.”

The wild­fire that affected Balochistan is a sig­nif­i­cant event in a coun­try where fires rou­tinely burn dur­ing the dry sea­son. Firefighters recently man­aged to con­trol a wild­fire in a swath of forests in north­ern Pakistan, near the coun­try’s cap­i­tal, Islamabad.

Other wild­fires have been reported in recent weeks in the moun­tains of the Swat dis­trict, just north of the cap­i­tal. According to AryNews, a local media out­let, this wild­fire took more than a week to be cur­tailed, and four peo­ple died.

The Global Forest Watch inter­na­tional obser­va­tory esti­mates that from 2001 to 2021, Pakistan lost 9,750 hectares of tree cover, equiv­a­lent to a 1 per­cent decrease since 2000.

Pakistan is already a for­est-poor coun­try as only 4.8 per­cent of its land is cov­ered with forests,” TheNews, another local media out­let, wrote in an edi­to­r­ial.

The global aver­age is 31 per­cent. Even South Asian coun­tries like India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have 24 per­cent, 14 per­cent and 34 per­cent of their land mass cov­ered with forests and plants,” they added.



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