Major unattended forest fires continue to create environmental hazards in Abbottabad

World Wednesday 21/February/2024 08:54 AM
Major unattended forest fires continue to create environmental hazards in Abbottabad

Muzaffarabad : The Abbottabad area near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), currently faces a massive forest fire, which has been destroying the Olive forests of PoK.

The forest fire has been spreading over large areas and remains unattended, turning hundreds of tonnes of priceless olive wood into ash creating smoke.

A local resident of the area Sajjad Naqvi explained the issue, saying, "This is the result of mere foolishness, nuisance, and ignorance of some uneducated individuals who don't understand the massive impact their actions could cause. These forest fires are not only destroying the natural vegetation and the land resources but are also destroying the ecosystem for animals."

Naqvi also added that these forest fires have also impacted the cycle of rain in the area causing severe problems for the local people. "The people just try to protect their own houses, they do not care if the whole forest gets burnt down. And the forest fire cannot be controlled, as no system of fire brigade has been established here. Not even the authorities are worried or care about this forest fire. This is just a matter of consideration all of us should consider that we need these forests for everything," he added.

Other areas of PoK have also been facing similar environmental hazards, areas surrounding Muzaffarabad have been facing the issue of depleting water reserves and forest fires in the region. However, the authorities have still not taken any action regarding the matter.

Raja Muhammad Mumtaz, another local from PoK, said, "Our forests are being destroyed every day because of reasons like forest fires, poaching, smuggling, and corruption. The government must make people aware of the importance of the forests. Until the people don't understand the importance of these resources and don't feel a sense of belonging towards them, the situation will not improve."

Mumtaz added, "Because of overpopulation and improper care, forests of POK are getting destroyed. Hence, they become more prone to forest fires. Solving this problem will need a united effort."

Another person belonging to the hilly areas of Gilgit Baltistan (GB) and PoK said they have transporting this water for a long time now. "There has been no rain for months, our forests are getting destroyed and ponds are drying. Hence the water supply for our people is less. We use this water, however bad it may be for cooking and drinking for both us and our castles."

He also said, "These seasonal tributaries from the mountains are the last hope for us, as we have no other source of water to rely on. And these also will dry up soon."

Due to climate change in PoK, a decrease in rainfall, an increase in pollution, and forest fires have reduced the underground water level. Speaking about the people who come from long distances to take water, the local residents mentioned that people come from at least eight to ten kilometers in search of water, as there are no more wells and ponds in this area.