Saturday, February 4, 2023

Balochistan forms task force to battle fire in world’s largest pine nuts forest in Pakistan

Devastating forest fire continues to rage in different parts of Koh-i-Sulaiman range

The government of Balochistan on Sunday formed a nine-member task force to battle a fire that has engulfed the world’s largest pine nut forest spread over 26,000 hectares located in Balochistan.

The task force has been set up on the directives issued by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Secretary Forest and Wildlife Balochistan will head the task force.

The devastating forest fire continues to rage in different parts of the Koh-i-Sulaiman range a week after it started and has engulfed hundreds of trees dotting the mountain range. The forest fire that “has now turned into a raging inferno” has killed three people and injured three others.

The army, provincial and federal disaster management authorities and other departments struggle to extinguish the flames. Pakistan Army has established a base camp in the area and provided two helicopters to assist in the firefighting operation. 

Several teams comprising over 300 personnel are busy taking part in the operation to control the inferno in Zarghoon Zawar, Shergai, Takai and Torghar areas.   

The Koh-i-Sulaiman range is home to the world’s most giant pine nuts (chilghoza) forest and connects Balochistan, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. The 26,000-hectare forest produces around 640,000 kilogrammes of chilghozas annually, according to UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates.

The mountain range is also home to rare animals including the Suleman Markhor – the national mammal of Pakistan and has been listed as an endangered species.

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