Forests are both breathtakingly beautiful and highly beneficial. In addition to providing for the local community's needs, they foster a rich ecosystem that benefits all living things. We must not take forests' value as a national resource for granted. The forests of Pakistan are a testament to this fact.
An Overview of Forests in Pakistan
Pakistan has 37,259 square kilometres of forest, accounting for 4.8% of its total land area. It is believed to be a forest-deficient nation. The country depends on forests for its fuel, shelter, and medicinal needs.
Some initiatives have been launched to address the rising deforestation and climate change concerns. Most notably, the 'Ten Billion Tree Tsunami' tree-planting program was launched in 2015.
Pakistan contains a variety of forest types as a result of its distinctive topography and diverse geographical landscapes.
1. Littoral and Swamp forests
Common Names: Mangrove Forest, Wetland Forest, Flooded Forest and Tidal Forest
Location: Areas near the coastal region of Sindh and Balochistan (like Coast of Gwadar and Pasni)
Popular Tree Species: Avicennia marina, Rhizophora mucronata, Ceriops Tagal
Littoral and swamp forests refer to forests found in salt marshes, tidal creeks, or coastal wetland habitats. These kinds of Pakistani forests frequently feature low-growing evergreen trees. The flora in these forests is tolerant of saline conditions.
Pakistan is home to the world's largest arid mangrove forest. As the first line of defence against cyclones, these mangrove forests are essential for the environment. Naturally, they are primarily located in coastal regions of Balochistan and Sindh.
2. Tropical dry deciduous forests
Common Names: Tropical drywoods
Popular Tree Species: Lannea, Bombax ceiba, Sterculia, Flacourtia, Mallotus, Acacia catechu
While they are undoubtedly rare, tropical dry deciduous forests can be found in Pakistan. These are forests that become dormant after maturation. While they typically range from low to moderate heights, they almost always have a light but fairly dense canopy.
Deforestation linked to urbanisation is blamed for Pakistan's lack of large-scale tropical drywood trees. Small pockets of this forest type can be found near Rawalpindi Hills.
3. Tropical thorn forests
Location: Cholistan Desert, Nara Desert, Tharparkar, Thal and Kharan desert
Popular Tree Species: Salvadora oleoides, Capparis decidua, Tamarix aphylla, Prosopis cineraria
The urbanisation of Pakistan has put the country's tropical thorn forests under constant threat. Low-growing and open tree species make up tropical thorn forests. These species have adapted to live without much water, which allows them to flourish in arid areas of the nation.
You can find a tropical thorn forest throughout the Indus plain, except in areas too dry for the species to survive. Typically, these forests can be found in semi-arid to desert-like climates.
4. Sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen forests
Location: Margalla Hills, the Salt Range, Kalachitta, the Sulaiman Range
Popular Tree Species: Olea cuspidata and Acacia modesta
Pakistan also contains sub-tropical broad-leaved evergreen species like Olea cuspidata. According to estimates, the country possesses almost 1.2 million hectares of this forest type. This type of forest has also adapted to survive with little water and can be found near the Himalayan foothills.
The trees in this region can grow over 75 feet tall within five years. Moreover, this type of forest is home to various invertebrate species.
5. Sub-tropical pine forests
Common Name: Himalayan Subtropical Pine Forests
Location: Kahuta Tehsil, Kallar Syedan and Kotli Satan
Popular Tree Species: Pinus roxburghii
The Himalayan subtropical pine forests are vast stretches of pine forests that cover parts of India, Nepal, and Pakistan. They can be found at elevations as high as 1700 meters above sea level within Pakistan itself. These forests are prone to catching fire because pine trees shed highly flammable needles.
6. Himalayan moist temperate forests
Popular Tree Species: Cedrus deodara, Pinus wallichiana, Picea smithiana, Abies pindrow, Quercus incana, Q. dilatata
The Himalayan moist temperate forests of Pakistan are adorned with diverse types of trees. They contain oak trees as well as other coniferous species. They are characterised by a rich undergrowth that features evergreen and deciduous species. This type of forest is found at high altitudes ranging between 1500 and 3000 metres above sea level. They are threatened by heavy grazing, which causes forest degradation.
The Himalayan moist temperate forests of Pakistan are quite remarkable because they are home to the national tree of Pakistan, the Deodar (also known as Himalayan Cedar).
7. Himalayan dry temperate forests
Popular Tree Species: Pinus gerardiana, Quercus ilex, Juniperus macropods, Picea smithiana
The Himalayan dry temperate forests are known for being evergreen and featuring open scrub undergrowth. Located in the middle altitudes of the Himalayas, they feature both coniferous and broad-leaved species.
8. Sub-alpine forests
Location: Eastern Himalaya
Popular Tree Species: Abies spectabilis, Betula utilis
Pakistan's sub-alpine forests have priceless evergreen conifers and stunning evergreen broad-leaved trees. This forest type is distinguished by its relatively low open canopy and deciduous shrubby undergrowth. Blue pine trees and dwarf junipers are also laced in pockets of this forest.
9. Alpine scrub
Popular Tree Species: Salix, Lonicera , Berberis , Cotoneaster with Juniperus, Rhododendron or Ephedra
The Alpine scrub forest is another type of forest in Pakistan. Their unique shrub formation reaches up to 1 to 2 metres high. Their low evergreen dense growth often features stunted Rhododendron and Juniper trees.
Priya R. Monver is a poet, writer, and lifelong learner. She is a business graduate who is fascinated by nature and mental health. Her love of writing and knack for branding help her grow as a professional content writer. Follow Priya on Twitter.