All you need to know about the Woodlands and Forests in Pakistan
Pakistan’s topography is highly diverse and full of natural landscapes.
Forests are a vital component of the ecosystem. They provide us with the essentials of life, including clean air, water, wildlife habitats, stable oils, wood, and more. The lush greens add significant value to a country’s landscape and drive serious economic activity by generating employment and boosting tourism. Like every other country, Pakistan also has its unique classification of forests that make up a major percentage of its tourist activity.
Total Covered Forest Area in Each Province of Pakistan
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, here’s the percentage breakdown of woodlands in each province of Pakistan:
|Percent of Total Forest Area
Major Types of Forests in Pakistan
Pakistan’s topography is highly diverse and full of natural landscapes. Here’s a detailed list of the major types of forests found across Pakistan:
1. Subtropical Pine Forests
Subtropical Pine Forests – also known as Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forests – are characterized by the diverse species of conifers and woody plants found in the region. These forests are home to pine trees and other vegetation that can survive in variable climatic conditions. This particular type of forest is exceptionally prone to forest fires. Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forests are usually spotted in Pakistan between the elevations of 900 meters to 1700 meters in the Western Himalayas – also known as Punjab Himalayas.
2. Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests
Tropical dry forests grow to a moderate height and are almost deciduous species of trees that shed their leaves annually. Through an aerial view, these forests appear to be reasonably dense during the monsoon season and are not any different from other forests. Floristic composition is one of the common traits shared by tropical dry deciduous forests with the rest of the forests in Pakistan.
These forests are primarily home to trees and plants such as lannea, bombax ceiba, sterculia, plum trees, mallotus, and acacia. Meanwhile, the typical vegetation of shrubs found in the region includes adhatoda, gymnosporia, and indigofera. Tropical dry forests are among the very few types of forests in Pakistan, which are only found near the foothills of Rawalpindi.
3. Himalayan Dry Temperate Forest
Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests comprise timeless species with open scrub undergrowth. In this particular type of forest in Pakistan, you can spot coniferous and broad-leafed trees. Dry zone deodar, Pinus gerardiana (locally known as chilgoza tree), and Quercus ilex are the main species found in this region. On the higher division, you are most likely to spot several communities of blue pine. Moreover, forests of blue pine, abhal, shupa, shur, and some picea smithiana (in the Gilgit region) are usually found in the driest inner tracts.
Himalayan Dry Temperate Forests are primarily found in the northwestern Himalayan Range, where the temperature is usually dry.
4. Tropical Thorn Forests
Primarily known as one of the branches of dry forests, tropical thorn forests – also known as thorny forests – are dense and have scrub-like vegetation. A significant number of forests of Pakistan comprise Tropical Thorn Forests. They are mainly found in areas that record warm temperatures and less rainfall. The three main traits of thorn forests are:
- They are found in regions that record less than 70 cm of rain.
- Thorn forests, just like the name suggests, have thorny bushes with long roots that assist them in staying hydrated by reaching the water under the ground.
- Thorny forests are usually made up of trees with thick and small leaves that minimize evaporation, such as acacias, palms, and cacti.
Tropical thorn forests are divided based on climax vegetation in Pakistan and are usually found near the Indus basin plains and near some districts in Sialkot, Gujrat, and Jehlum. This is because the temperature during summers in these regions is usually higher than 35 degrees Celsius.
Previously, thorny forests were found amidst riverain forests situated along the river banks in the north and northwestern areas of Pakistan. Altogether these forests were ideal for the wildlife of this region since they seasonally migrated to lower hills in summers and towards plains in winters. Over the years, the situation has changed, and now, riverain forests tend to grow in disjunctive patches.
5. Littoral and Swamp Forests
Expansive forests with plantations and trees of low heights are mostly found near the coasts of the Arabian Sea in Pakistan and are known as Littoral and Swamp Forests. Most commonly known as mangrove forests, these are home to exotic species [of trees] such as Avicenna marina – grey mangrove or white mangrove – and Rhizophora. As per the latest estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, Pakistan has around 207,000 hectares of swamplands.
Mangrove forests are found near the banks of the Arabian Sea, so it is only natural to find these swamplands around the many beaches in Sindh, especially Karachi, and Pasni, Balochistan.
6. Subtropical Broad-Leaf Forests
Just like the name suggests, subtropical broad-leaved evergreen forests are xerophytic forests with thorny, small-leafed, and evergreen plant life, such as succulents. In Pakistan, these forests are typically populated with olive trees, acacia modesta, and dodonaea. The total area of these forests in Pakistan is estimated to be around 1,191,000 hectares, and some of the best features of these forests are:
- A tree in this forest can grow over 75-feet in height within 5 years.
- The forest canopy is home to many animals, such as monkeys.
- Below the forest canopy, you are most likely to find wildlife like snakes and big cats.
- All layers of these forests are diverse and are home to invertebrate species.
You are most likely to spot these forests in Pakistan near the foothills and lower slopes of the Himalayas and mainly around the salt range, near Kala Chitta Mountain Range and Sulaiman Range.
7. Himalayan Moist Temperate Forest
Home to Pakistan’s national tree – Deodar – Himalayan Moist Temperate Forests are known for their evergreen conifers and various other species, including oak trees and deciduous broad-leafed trees.
In Pakistan, these forests are divided into lower and upper zones depending on the definite number of conifers or oak trees. You will most likely find cedrus deodara, pinus wallichiana, picea smithiana, and abies pindrow in the lower zone. Meanwhile, the upper zone is populated with pindrow and q. semecarpifolia.
As the name suggests, Himalayan Moist Temperate Forests are found in the Western Himalayas between 1500 m and 3000 m elevation, except in the extreme northwest regions where the rainfall is recorded below 1,000 m.
8. Alpine Forests
Usually found in the mountainous regions and the areas with high elevation, Alpine Forests are divided into two categories in Pakistan: sub-alpine forests and alpine scrub. Here are some features of Alpine Forests in Pakistan:
- This particular type of forest is found throughout the Himalayas at about 3,350 m
- The three typical trees found in this region are abies spectabilis, birch, and bhuj.
Alpine Forests are found in limited areas of Pakistan, and the list includes Chitral, Dir, Swat, and Gilgit.
Types of Trees Found in Ajk, Balochistan, Kpk, Punjab, and Sindh
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, these are the types of trees found in different states of Pakistan:
|Forests Based on the Types of Trees
A recent study carried out by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations found that over 4 million hectares of land are covered with forests in Pakistan. The study indicates that only 4% of the country’s total land area comprises woodland, which doesn’t include the plantation near canals and railways.
Since these green spaces in Pakistan provide food and shelter to both animals and humans, the government has been taking considerate measures to tackle environmental issues in Pakistan. If the government continues to promote forestry in Pakistan, the green number will only continue to grow.
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