Pakistan is full of natural beauty with wildlife sanctuaries and national parks that serve as nature reserves to maintain thriving ecosystems in every province. Let’s learn more about the forests in Sindh and the kind of ecosystems and wildlife they support in the tall trees and undergrowth spread across the forest floor.
About the Forests in Sindh
The province of Sindh has a population of more than 55 million residents, over a landmass of over 34 million acres. Out of this, a mere 8% of the total area is under the management of the Forest & Wildlife Department of Sindh, which is a provincially governed authority that oversees the development and maintenance of forests in the province.
Types of Forests in Sindh
Sindh is rich in diversity when it comes to forestry resources, with four types of forests spread across the province. These four types of forests are:
- Riverine Forests
- Irrigated Plantations
Stay with us as we explain the different habitats of each forest below.
Riverine Forests grow on embankments along both sides of the river. They follow the path of the River Indus into Sindh, from the northeast of the province, all the way to the south where the river falls into the Arabian Sea. Riverine Forests come under the category of productive forests in Sindh, as they produce a large quantity of wood for various commercial and domestic purposes.
Known as Kacho forests by the locals, you can find riverine forests in Hyderabad, Thatta, Shikarpur, Dadu, Jacobabad, Naushahro Feroze, Khairpur, Larkana, Ghotki, Sukkur, and Nawabshah districts, along the banks of the River Indus. These forests support the growth of Babul, Poplar, Jand, Athel Pine, and Salt Cedar, while protecting the banks of the river from soil erosion and the lands beyond from severe flooding in the monsoon season.
Another name for manmade plantations based on the canal irrigation system in Sindh, most of these forests are grown alongside crops to not only shelter the fields from harsh winds but to also supply firewood to the locals. Wood from these forests is also sent to factories to manufacture wood-based products, which is why all irrigated plantations in Sindh are categorised as productive forests.
The irrigation system in Sindh is mainly dependent on canals and dams, with the first barrage being built at Sukkur in 1932, followed by the Kotri Barrage and Guddu Barrage in 1956 and 1962, respectively. Babul, Eucalyptus, Shisham, Silk Cotton Tree, and Conocarpus, are some of the dominant species in irrigated plantations across the province.
All grazing fields for livestock and unclassified wastelands that are not a part of the local irrigation system fall into this category, where wild vegetation blooms in abundance. Rangelands in Sindh are considered to be protected forests that are used to sustain the local livelihood of livestock farmers. They provide food for livestock and are home to a range of wildlife that prefers the dry and arid regions of the province.
Sadly, as cities expand and more land is turned over to make space for residential facilities, rangelands are becoming scarce. However, they are a necessity if the livestock population in Sindh is to be maintained. Some rangelands are more fertile than others, and each one witnesses different amounts of rainfall throughout the year, which is the only source of irrigation for most of these wild forests.
Rangelands are commonly populated by Pea Fowls, Partridges, Chinkara, Desert Cats, Houbara Bustard, Sandgrouse, and many species of various birds of prey, particularly in the districts of Khairpur, Mirpur Khas, Tharparkar, Sukkur, and Sanghar, along the eastern edges of the province. Many of the species found in rangelands are also endangered or threatened by illegal hunting. The Deh Akro Wildlife Sanctuary is one such ecosystem that is home to rangelands. Meanwhile, the districts of Karachi, Thatta, Larkana, and Dadu are also home to arid wastelands within the limits of the Kirthar National Park, which is home to the endangered Sindh Ibex.
Moving to the extreme south of the province, you will find the Indus Delta mangroves, which protect the coastal regions from cyclones, soil erosion, wind storms, flooding, and other sea intrusions. These mangroves are also categorised as protected forests in Sindh and are an important part of the local ecosystem.
The four types of mangrove species found in Sindh include Grey Mangrove, Red Mangrove, Black Mangrove, and Spurred Mangrove. Mangroves in Sindh support the commercial fishing industry and biodiversity to a great extent, which is why it is important to protect them and their habitat.
Most of the mangroves are located in the Korangi district of Karachi, while the rest stretches across the coastal belt to the Indian border. They are home to marine life, including shrimps, lobsters, crabs, and 98 different types of fish, including sea dolphins. Records show at least 3 types of lizards and 14 types of snakes living in these submerged forests.
Birds that make the mangroves their home include seagulls, as well as migratory species like flamingos, cormorants, cranes, and pelicans, which fly to the region in large flocks for breeding and roosting every year between November to February.
About the Forest & Wildlife Department, Sindh
All of the forests in Sindh are maintained by the Forest & Wildlife Department of the Government of Sindh. The organisation plays a vital role in not just safeguarding but also rehabilitating all of the forests in the province, particularly the mangroves along the coast and the riverine forests along the River Indus. Plantation activities are also carried out for all four forestry resources to ensure that the province can maintain its climatic conditions, as well as the demand for wood from irrigated plantations and dairy products from livestock grazing on the rangelands.
Historically, with very little rainfall and a subtropical climate, most of the forest regions in the province were irrigated only when the banks of the River Indus flooded annually. Over the years, as dams were built on the river, this occurrence became less and less frequent, resulting in lack of irrigation, for which additional measures were taken by the Sindh Forest Department to maintain the forestry resources in the province.
However, the land covered by forests in Sindh has been depleting rapidly over the years and more efforts are needed to sustain these unique ecosystems and their flora and fauna. Read our detailed post on the types of forests in Pakistan to discover more about the forestry resources in the country. You can also visit these amazing forests in Punjab. Stay tuned to Zameen Blog for more informative posts. Don’t forget to send us your feedback at email@example.com!