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     May 11, 2015



Thousands numbers of deodar trees dried in Chitral Gol National Park

By Zahiruddinz

CHITRAL: The mysterious disease caused to drying up of thousands of deodar trees in Chitral Gol National Park has always evaded the notice of wild life department over the past ten years.

Talking to Chitral Times here on Saturday, a number of residents complained that the dried up national trees (deodar) are seen in every part of the park but its management has done no effort to diagnose the disease to eradicate it.

They said that the disease shows a grave situation in the national park which houses the national tree (deodar), national animal (markhor) and national bird (chakor) and any delay in controlling it could spell doom not only for the valuable deodar trees but also afflict other important high-altitude species .

A conservationist working with a non-governmental organization, requesting anonymity, warned that unless effective preventive and curative measures were taken, the disease can affect the rich biodiversity in the national park area.

He said that the process of drying up had started ten years ago and the trees older than twenty years are affected by the disease while it has been observed that at first the upper part of the trees get dried.

Giving the other symptoms, he said that the in the first stage, the needles turn yellowish and their size and the crown starts withering in the next stage and finally the bark also peels off the drying tree.

Discarding the presence of fungus as the reason, he said that that no trace of fungus can be traced out and that the fungus attacks the roots while the drying up of the trees from the top also negates it.

He estimated 35 acres of the area specifically from North to West with affected trees while the park divided into many patches in which many have completely dried up trees and while in most of them the trees are in different stages of withering.

He stressed on a thorough survey of the forests in and around the afflicted patches in the national park to assess the extent of the spread of disease and temporary isolation of the infected areas.

The chairman of Chitral Gol National Park Association (CGNPA), the umbrella organization of twelve village conservation committees, Hussain Ahmed, expressed his grave concern over the fast rate of drying up of deodar trees in the park.

He said that a number of resolutions were passed in the CGNPA meetings asking the wildlife department to take measures to contain the proliferation of the mysterious diseases in the park but to no avail.

He said that the drying up of chalghuza pine, a species of the deodar, has inflicted economic loss on the local people as they used to collect hundreds of thousands of kilograms of chalghuza every year which is in high demand in the market.

Mr. Ahmed said that the process of drying up of the trees had started long ago in the park which encompasses an area of 77.5 km and it was a pity that the wildlife department is still indifferent to it.

When the divisional forest officer of Chitral Gol wildlife division, Muhammad Buzurg, was contacted to know his version, he admitted the drying up of trees in the park and stated drought of rainfall as the reason.

He said that no anatomic disease can be attributed to the drying up of trees as the shortage of required moisture to the roots of trees was the only cause of its drying up of the deodar trees.



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