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Islamabad to have first ‘Urban Forestry Park’

Islamabad:After developing the first ever ‘Wetlands project’ near Bari Imam on the fringes of Diplomatic Enclave, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has planned to develop Islamabad’s first ‘Model Forestry Park’ over 350 acres of land in Malpur area alongside the banks of Rawal Lake. The park, first of its kind, will also have a water body over an area of 35 acres.

Rana Tahir, the Director Environment, who is the Project Director for ‘Model Forestry Park’ said that the access to this park will be from Murree Expressway side. “Once it would be fully developed, it would become yet another big attraction, especially for the nature lovers who somehow could not climb the trails on Margalla hills as they would be able to stroll leisurely here,” he said.

He said that this park will be fully developed over the next five years at a total cost of Rs. 1,164 million. Initially approximately 150,000 tree saplings of various friendly indigenous species will be grown in addition to the trees already present in the area.

He said that the whole area is already fully acquired by the CDA and developing this park will also help regain the possession of the land from the illegal squatters who are always encroaching over CDA land.

This idea of using CDA’s acquired land retrieved from illegal possession being turned into tree plantation sites has already been helping the Authority to maintain its possession. CDA has already turned large tracts of such lands retrieved from illegal possession into tree plantation sites, preventing the encroachers and squatters returning to these sites.

“To give it more lively touch the a small number of old inhabitants of Malpur village will be allowed to stay in the original homes but strictly in compliance with the CDA’s rules and regulations,” he added.

Rana Tahir said that local species of trees like ‘Kachnar’, ‘Amaltas’, Chir Pine’, Weeping Willow, ‘Shisham’, besides shrubs like ‘Granda’, ‘Kanghar’, Forest Flame, ‘Timer’ and ‘Butkhair’ will be planted in the ‘Model Forestry Park.

“There are quite a large number of ‘Shisham’, ‘Chir Pine’ and ‘Granda’ shrubs already present in the area. But most of the area is covered by invasive species of ‘lantana’ that would be required to be removed.

“The new tree saplings to be planted in this ‘Model Forestry Park’ will be about 2 feet of height from color to tip and with proper care and tending these will grow in height rapidly to become tall within five years’ time,” the Director Environment said.

He also said that part of this park touching the Rawal Lake banks will be turned into a protected migratory birds’ sanctuary. “Rawal Lake was a good migratory birds sanctuary in the beginning and the flocks of migratory birds flying from Siberia and other parts used to land here for breeding and hatching. But with the passage of time the increasing human intervention and water sports activities ward off these birds from coming here. We have every intention to clear this area to welcome the migratory birds once again,” Rana Tahir said.

He said that initially a 73-strong staff is being hired for this project while the necessary agriculture and supporting machinery is being procured for the park’s main feature development.

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