Aaliya Mir, Wildlife SOS education officer, organized two plantation drives in locations near the Dachigam National Park in order to encourage community involvement in conservation and clean-up efforts within the natural reserves. March and April were chosen as an optimum time to plant new trees, as it would give them plenty of time to acclimate to their surroundings before summer arrives.
For a while, many cement factories were present near the Khrew Conservation Reserve and Manasbal Hill, which resulted in a barren landscape. Eventually the toxic byproducts of the manufacturing process leached in to the surrounding area causing the soil to be heavily polluted. With all these factors combined, the future of this natural land seemed bleak.
In the last twenty years, research has shown that conifers help to mitigate these long-lasting effects. As a defense mechanism they utilize different compounds within the soil, some even poisonous for other organisms, in order make their resin and leaves toxic to ingest. Overtime heavy metals and other chemicals accumulate within the plant, thus successfully removing them from the soil. With this in mind, the Wildlife SOS team decided it was best to plant a variety of these trees to treat the effected land.
The first plantation drive was held at the end of March, within the Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve, where approximately 1000 conifer saplings were planted. The event lasted for a week and had a variety of people in attendance to help along with the process. The planting crew consisted of volunteers from the Wildlife Protection Department, Forest Protection Force, and local volunteers from the Social Concern Group (SCG).
With the success of the first plantation drive, the team decided to host an additional planting in mid-April. This one lasted for a day and the team was able to oversee the successful planting of about 250 saplings. Additionally, the volunteers also provided aid in cleaning up trash that had accumulated in the area (plastics, wrappers, containers, etc.).
It is our mission to further educate the local communities on how to ensure good health for the land that is surrounding them. Our team will continue to hold these plantation drives, with the next one likely taking place towards the end of the 2018 year! We appreciate all the support we receive, which makes it possible for us to utilize our platform in order to spread awareness.