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Restoring dry woodlands in Pakistan

5 January 2015
One of BGCI’s ambitious goals is to develop a new programme for the conservation of arid land species and their habitats. A detailed report now available shows progress in a particularly important area of dryland biodiversity – the dry forests of Pakistan.

Dry forest vegetation inlcuding the palm Nannorrhops ritchieana

For the past five years BGCI has been working in partnership with the Department of Botany, Sustainable Development Study Centre and Botanic Garden of Government College University Lahore to develop a pilot action programme for the conservation and restoration of dry woodlands in Pakistan's Punjab province.  Important aspects of this have been to work with local community and forestry department representatives to encourage wide participation in restoration.  It has also been important to promote the use of indigenous species, and to explore the potential for new plant-based products and markets. 
Many of the woody plants of Pakistan’s dry forests are of medicinal, cosmetic or ornamental value. For instance, Butea monosperma, a popular tree in amenity planting, is a host of the insect Laccifer lacca from which lac is obtained. Lac is used in the manufacture of furniture and handicrafts. 

Wild populations with B. monosperma  have been decreasing by some 80 percent over the last ten years, mainly because of intensified agriculture. Equally, most of the traditional uses of Butea have declined in Pakistan and the species is now mainly exploited as a source of firewood. However, tasting the nectar of the tree's flowers remains popular with children. Capitalising on this relationship, the project developed the Butea Club to reinvigorate the childern's interest in this plant and involve them in the restoration work.

For more information on BGCI's work in Pakistan and to download a detailed report, please see our Asia page.

For further information, please contact Joachim Gratzfeld.

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