RECENTLY in Roundu district, Gilgit-Baltistan, more than 500 century-old trees have been cut down over a minor personal dispute. It is hard to believe that government officials were also involved in the heinous act.
More shockingly, there was no one to protest. Instead, people cheered the perperators on during the despicable act. The trees would provide shade to the entire region in hot days. The ecosystem has been badly affected after cutting them down.
Moreover, the natural beauty of the region has been destroyed. The trees also reminded of the oldest civilisation with ritualistic signs imprinted on the barks of many trees, indicating Buddhism.
Owing to illiteracy and ignorance, the locals are unaware of the importance of trees. While the forest is being reduced, the mercury unprecedentedly surges high, resulting in abrupt flooding owing to melting of glaciers. This, in turn, affects the whole country’s climate.
Flooding causes soil erosion and removal of minerals from soil as water moves downward affecting agricultural land. This decreases the yield. The dissolved minerals are polluting the rivers which is also dangerous to sea and marine life.
The government should establish a training institute in the region or arrange monthly seminars to educate the people about natural resource conservation.
Besides, a national heritage centre should also be established for the conservation of historic sights, which are in abundance in the region.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2019