Published On: Fri, Oct 2nd, 2015

Bagrot valley of Gilgit loses forests, the only source of livelihood

How a Tree is Made into Lumber, vintage engraving

How a Tree is Made into Lumber, vintage engraving

Riaz Ali

GILGIT: As the winter is just around the corner, 60-year-old Syed Ibrahim Balgi has become anxious about getting firewood to combat cold. He has 12 family members and lives in Bagrot village of Gilgit valley.

In the times bygone, Balgi used to easily bring firewood from the forest, but now, cutting of trees on large scale has made this exercise for him a bit difficult.

In Gilgit, the forest covers an area of 950,000 hectares of land. From December to March, the valley dwellers have no other option but to save from severe cold by burning firewood.

In Gilgit, the forest covers an area of 950,000 hectares of land

In Gilgit, the forest covers an area of 950,000 hectares of land

Bagroat village is situated in the southeast of the Gilgit city. Doboi, Kargo, Yunay, Boi Pharai, Hurangi and Rakha Poshi glaciers surround the valley.

There were times when trees from this area were transported to every nook and corner of the country. But in 1993, a ban on transporting wood was imposed outside the district to discourage the cutting of trees. Although there was no big change in this regard, the administration succeeded to lessen the cutting of trees to some extent.

Shah Muhammad, 65, belongs to Farfu Goth Bagrot. He does farming, and also sells firewood he brings from the forest. He cuts the trees and starts piling them for winters to get some earning. In this way he runs his house along with providing firewood to people to fight winters.

Bagroat village is situated in the southeast of the Gilgit city. Doboi, Kargo, Yunay, Boi Pharai, Hurangi and Rakha Poshi glaciers surround the valley

Bagroat village is situated in the southeast of the Gilgit city. Doboi, Kargo, Yunay, Boi Pharai, Hurangi and Rakha Poshi glaciers surround the valley

Muhammad while talking to TNN says he cuts trees under need and not with heart, as it is the only source available to him to fight with poverty and fulfil his household needs.
Syed Zahid Hussain, a social worker of Bagrot and former project manager of United Nations Development Programmes for Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) claims the instances of cutting of trees have fallen to a great extent because of an increase in literacy rate in the area.

“Young, women, male and female students have become aware of the importance of forest,” he says. “In the area the mercury falls below 10 Celsius during six months and there is no alternative resource to keep homes warm. Hence, the people in need cut trees for livelihood.”

This story has been published in arrangement with NCEJ as part of its training in Gilgit on “Reporting impacts of climate change on communities”

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