Chambeili ( Jasmine ) The National Flower of Pakistan
Flora and natural landscape of any country or region largely hinges on its climate, geography, closeness to sea and mountains besides soil type and precipitation. from sea shore, the altitude in Pakistan rises to 8,611 m (height of K-2, the second highest peak of the world), and temperature varies from sub-zero in the glacier-clad mountains to 52°C (125°F) at Sibi (Balochistan province) and Mianwali (Punjab). The average annual precipitation ranges from as low as .50 mm at Nok Kundi in Balochistan to 2032 mm in the northern mountain ranges. This diversity in altitude, temperature and precipitation has resulted in a diversity of biotic communities, and a relatively rich flora of at least 5,700 species of various form of plants.
Generally, the forests are confined to the mountain ranges in the north, where coniferous alpine and sub-alpine trees such as spruce, pine, and deodar cedar grow. The southern ranges of the Himalayas, which are of lower elevation, receive heavy rainfall and have dense forests of deodar, pine, poplar, and willow trees. In the Bulashbar Valley, in the Northern Areas, heavy rainfall allows for a more diverse flora than in many other parts of Pakistan's north. The mountain slope below the snowline provide favourable conditions for many species of kail, fir and spruce, juniper, birch and the important chilghoza pine to thrive. The arid Sulaiman and Salt mountain ranges are sparsely forested with mulberry trees, locally called shisham. Dry-temperate vegetation in the form of coarse grasses, scrub plants and dwarf palm abound in the valleys of the North-West Frontier Province and the Balochistan Plateau. The western hills are dotted with juniper, tamarisk (salt cedar), and pistachio trees. Ziarat (Balochistan) has juniper forests that are believed to be 5,000 years old, spread over an area of 0.3 million acres. Dry-tropical scrub and thorn trees are the predominant vegetation in the Indus River plain. Known as rakh, this vegetation is native to the region and can survive temperatures higher than 45°C (113°F). Irrigated tree plantations are found in Punjab and Sind along roadsides, canals and artifical forests. Changa Manga and Lalsohanra Forests are some to mention. There are some 203 endemic species, or about 4% of the total flora, which mostly abound the mountain regions of northern Pakistan, particularly in the Chitral and Kashmir districts, and in northern Balochistan.
In addition, some 2000 medicinal plant species are found in Pakistan. Among these is Ephedra Procera, used in allopathic medicine to treat bronchial asthma, hay fever and as a heart stimulant. Once a major supply of Ephedra Procera to the world originated from Balochistan. But the exploitation of these herbal plants largely remains under explored or even neglected due to ignorance of even their presence and about 90% of herbal plants are imported for drug manufacturing. As per an estimate, 4000 tonnes of oil from juniper berries could be harvested.
Like the wild life, some plant species (about 12% of the total) have been estimated as threatened or endangered due to lack of adequate rains in recent years, habitat destruction, over-exploitation of economic plants, introduction of alien species besides environmental pollution. No one presently seems to be interested in conserving the flora which may prove to be disastrous in long run. A case in point is the old Juniper forests in Ziarat (Balochistan) which are dwindling due to illegal deforestation.
|Deodar or Himalayan Cedar (Cedrus Deodara) is the National tree of Pakistan. It is a species of cedar native to the western Himalaya in eastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan, Kashmir, Tibet and western Nepal, occurring at 1500-3200 m altitude. It is a large evergreen coniferous tree reaching 40-50 m tall, exceptionally 60 m, with a trunk up to 3 m diameter. It has a conic crown with level branches and drooping branchlets. The leaves are needle-like, mostly 2.5-5 cm long, occasionally up to 7 cm long, slender (1 mm thick), borne singly on long shoots, and in dense clusters of 20-30 on short shoots; they vary from bright green to glaucous blue-green in colour. The female cones are barrel-shaped, 7-13 cm long and 5-8 cm broad, and disintegrate when mature (in 12 months) to release the winged seeds. The male cones are 4-6 cm long, and shed their pollen in autumn. Abbotabad in Pakistan has some very rare and old trees, some even as old as 200-300 years old. The photograph shown above is that of huge tree standing majestically in the Piffers Officers' Mess in Abbottabd, planted somewhere around 1850.
Mangrove Forests Pakistan, houses the world’s 5th largest continuous mangrove area, known as the Indus delta mangrove ecosystem, stretched over some 600, 000 hectors between Karachi and the south-western border of India on the coast of Arabian Sea. Beside mangrove forests, the delta also includes creeks, extensive mud flats, sand dunes and salt marshes. An estimated 135,000 people abound the area, earning their livelihood mainly from fishing besides camel browsing, buffalo grazing and wood collection etc. The over fishing, reduction in sweet water flow through the Indus, pollution and changes in hydrography is dangerously degenerating the mangrove vegetation and habitat.
The need to conserve and rehabilitate the valuable resources of this ecosystem has resulted in formulation of the Rehabilitation and Replanting of the Indus Delta Mangroves (RRIDM) sub project in 1993. The project has succeeded in establishing about 16, 000 hectors of mangroves over a period of 6 years in Karachi, Keti Bundar/Karochan and Shah Bundar regions. Average survival rates of new plantation is around 81%.