By Shah Fahad Ali Khan
Mountains are the country’s most valuable resources. They are a great source of pride & joy for every Chitrali. Mountains dominate the skyline wherever it appears raising our eyes above the everyday level of civilization.
They represent the nature in different ways and various colours. They are the symbolic representation of achievement and isolation of individuals from masses of working class industrialized areas. They rise above as majestic entities whose peaks are touched by few enduring and brave souls. They symbolize personal freedom and accomplishment through a connection with nature, distant from the constraints of materialism. Mountains are natural focal point in the landscape. In the continuum of landscape, mountains are discontinuity.
Mountains are important from various points of view. They are the natural fence and geographic barriers against foreign invaders. Mountains are the reservoir of forests. It is not possible to sum up the importance of forests in just a few words. Forests effect our daily lives in so many ways, even in the midst of a busy, noisy, polluted and concrete city life. Despite our dependence on forests, we are still allowing to disappear.
From the air we breathe to the wood we love—just think of how forests have affected our lives today. Have you had your breakfast today?
Switched on a light?
Blown your nose into a tissue?…….Still you are sitting in wooden chairs. All these activities directly or indirectly involve forests. Some are easy to figure out i.e. fruits, paper, and wood from trees and so on. Others are less obvious / byproducts that go into the manufacture of other everyday items like medicines, cosmetics and detergents.
Allowing a fair distribution of wild life, they are also a natural sanctuary for some animals. They are the houses of endangered snow leopard and shelter for Markhor and other important wild species. Forests are the lungs of nature, absorbing Co2 from the environment thus reducing the greenhouse effect. When forest grow, carbon is removed from the atmosphere and absorbed in wood, leaves and soil. They can store Carbon for longer time and can be considered as Carbon sinks. Climate change over the recent years has become a global issue for conservation agencies. They also produce O2as a byproduct in the process of photosynthesis.
Deforestation, mainly conversion of forests to agricultural land is continuing at an alarmingly high rate. Forests are decreased worldwide by 0.22%/year.
Forests are also source of livelihood for many human settlements as well as for governments, as in the case of Markhor trophy hunting in Chitral which generates revenue worth millions for the socio-economic development of the area. They protect local communities against natural disasters.
Forests offer water shed protection, timber and non-timber products and various recreational options. They prevent soil erosions, help in maintaining the water cycle and check global warming by using CO2 in photosynthesis.
Yet we are loosing them. That is the tragedy. Over the past 50 years about half of the world’s original forest has been lost, the most significant cause for that being human beings, using resources in un-systematic ways. A tree in our lawn is worth millions for us but we never pay a penny worth attention to millions of trees in mountainous forests. When we take away the forests, it is not just the trees that go, the entire eco system begins to fall apart with dire consequences for all of us.
And today on international mountains day, let us promise that we will keep our natural treasure in forms of mountains from the harms of commercialization, deforestation and deformation.
(The writer is Lecturer and CEO OFERA, Chitral)