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    Call for protecting Shisham from dieback disease in KP

    Call for protecting Shisham from dieback disease in KP

    PESHAWAR (APP) : Shisham-an indigenous tree- is gradually vanishing apparently due to dieback disease in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the environmentalists have stressed the need for advanced research studies to save the economically beneficial specie from possible extinction.

    Gulzar Rehman, former Conservator of Forests said that Shisham has been endangered by the dieback also called cancer at Peshawar, Charsadda, Mardan, Nowshera and Swabi districts where infestation rate was high compare to other districts of the province.

    Botanically known as Dilbergia sissoo, he said Shisham is under increasing threat of disappearing since it was first reported in 1998 in these areas and that an advanced research studies and investigations were required for eradication of dieback that often attack the species at young age.

    Dr A. H. Khan, an eminent pathologist of Pakistan in his book ‘Pathology of trees volume-II’ had disclosed that dieback in Shisham was found in early 1900 in the subcontinent.

     He observed various fungi including Ganoderma lucidum in Khanewal plantation in Punjab, which ultimately lead to dieback in 1956.

    The multi purposes Shisham, which was introduced in Changa Manga in 1866 to produce coal for the railways, was a great source of earning for the farmers and middle class due to its wide-range uses and benefits.

    “My late father had planted Shisham with an advice that sissoo will overcome your financial constraints in future,” said Kamal Ahmed (30), a former of Mohib Banda in Nowshera district while talking to APP.

    He said from generation to generation they were planting the specie and selling them for dowry of sisters or education of children. “Last year 12 Shisham trees in my farmland were attacked apparently by the disease which was a great financial loss to him,” he said.

    “I started replacing Shisham with Mulberry and Poplar as it was often attacked by the disease at the maturing stage, resulting great financial losses to them” said another former Riazul Haq of the same village.

    A visitor who travels in upper Swat canal linking Katlang-Swabi, Michi canal in Dargai Malakand and Harichand in Charsadda, would be disappointed to see the dry Shisham trees.

    “Dieback is an international problem as the disease is also reported in India, Nepal and Bangladesh,” said Dr Mumtaz Malik, former Secretary Environment and Forests KP. 

    “The stretching of Shisham from its natural habitats of hilly areas to draught hit plain areas has left it at the mercy of the deadly disease,” he said.

    He said that root injuries to Shisham during cleaning of water channels in these districts was one of the reason of high infestation rate.

    Dr Mumtaz  Malik said the dieback had made little impact on Shisham in hilly areas like Mirpur in the Azad Jammu and Kashmir as compared to draught hit areas of Mardan, Swabi and Charsadda since it was reported in 1998.

    Khyber Pakthunkhwa Forest Department officials told APP that Pakistan Forest Institute has already started research on dieback disease.

    The said formers and students were being involved besides national building departments to plant maximum Shisham plants in southern districts of Khyber Pakthunkhwa.

    According to KP Forest  Department, five million saplings including Shisham would be planted in central southern region 1 including Peshawar, Mardan, Swabi, Charsadda and southern districts of Khyber Pakthunkhwa during ongoing spring season. 

    About 3.806 million saplings would be sown in Malakand Forest Region III Swat including Shangla, Buner, Malakand, Chitral and Dir districts.

    The barren lands and rugged mountains of merged tribal districts would also be utilized to achieve the set afforestration targets with cooperation of relevant departments.

    Tribal people are being encouraged to approach divisional forest officers offices in their respective districts for obtaining plants including Shisham for afforestation.

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