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Time to rid Peshawar of dead wood

May 27, 2012

PESHAWAR, May 27: Termite infected and dead trees along roads and in parks in cantonment area of the provincial capital are posing a serious threat to the life of people as they can collapse anytime.

Many aging and dead trees particularly of Sheesham in Khalid bin Walid Park, on The Mall, Michni Road and residential frontages have not been removed that could jeopardise public safety.

Similarly, a large number of such trees along the busy roads are severely infected due to termite attack. A few days ago a visitor in Khalid bin Walid Park also known as Company Bagh miraculously survived when a big log fell on him. He was rushed to the military hospital for treatment.

Conservationists said that dead and aging trees could turn into breeding grounds for termites and other insects and could transfer the germs to other plant species in the nearby localities.

An official of the forest department said that Sheesham took almost 60 years to reach maturity and suggested that aged plants need to be axed otherwise diseases would spread to healthy plants.

The other problem is the stretching of branches of several dead and aging trees on the main roads and streets which can put lives of motorists and pedestrians at risk.

However, the cantonment board authorities have yet to remove the persisting threat.

Mukesh, a gardener of cantonment board, said that over 1,000 aging trees had been identified in the cantonment area.

He said that the board was responsible for trees along the main roads while trees planted in streets and official bungalows came under the authority of military estate officer.

Mohammad Waseem, in-charge of the gardens in cantonment area, said that at least 30 dead and aged trees had been identified along The Mall, Fort Road and other localities that would be cut soon. He said that the cantonment board would remove such trees before putting them on sale through open auction.

Plant experts said that urban areas required safe and sustainable plantation in order to conserve the area’s natural environment and horticulturists should regularly inspect trees for public safety.

Tahir Rafiq, director forestry research in Pakistan Forest Institute Peshawar, said that this was responsibility of the management to carry out examination of trees and check their health condition in urban areas. He said that trees which seemed to have completed their life should be removed.

He said that some plant species completed their life in 40 years and if necessary horticulturists could axe the dangerous trees.

However, he said that some species could survive for over hundred years and the managers of urban areas should take care of such trees.

Mr Rafiq said that in urban areas tall trees required regular trimming to protect utilities and enhance public safety. The growing branches of trees encroach and fall on electricity, telephone and cable wires that hampered public utility service in the area, he said.

Besides, he said that timber of dead trees also lose market value.