Temperature and moisture are two essential requirements for seed germination. Chitral, a district in northern Pakistan, has an extremely adverse environment to plant growth and regeneration – there are no monsoon rains here and only winter precipitation in the form of snow. This has not only threatened natural regeneration of native plant species but also caused prolonged impacts to the soil and environment.
To promote and assist natural regeneration of land that can survive in extreme climatic conditions and restore the forests, ___ introduced the seed balls technique in the district.
Seed balls are also a type of nature-based solution. The materials for making seed balls – seeds, soil, and humus– are simple, affordable, and locally available. To spread this solution through a larger network and foster the understanding of ownership, we engaged all potential stakeholders, including the Forest Department of Chitral, local communities, and forest Negabhans (forest guards) in the making and sowing of the seed balls.
A group of local volunteers, Forest Department staff, and forest Negabhans were assigned to identify degraded and deforested forest sites to promote assisted natural regeneration.
The seeds of Chilgoza Pine (Pinus gerardiana), Himalayan Deodar (Cedrus deodara), Blue Pine (Pinus wallichiana), and other local herbs and shrubs were collected and given to the village forest committees for making the seed balls. The Forest Department under FAO and Global Environment Facility’s ‘Chilgoza Project’ organised several training events in different villages to make people aware of the seed ball-making and sowing techniques. Joint events for sowing and throwing of seed balls were organised in different valleys of the identified areas.
After the snowmelt in mid of May, a group comprising a local forest staff and two members from the Local Forest Protection Committee of the area checked the regeneration.
Three million seed balls were prepared, sown, and thrown in 20 sites of deforested and degraded land in Chitral. One seed ball consisted of five seeds (two seeds of Chilghoza Pine, two seeds of Himalayan Deodar, and one seed of local species. With a 68% of successful survival rate, we were able to restore 800 ha of forest area in Chitral. This has benefited communities from 10 major valleys in the district. Since this restoration technique was successful and effective in in Chitral, it has the possibility of being replicated and scaled across the HKH.
Khyber Pukhtunkhaw Forest Department, Chitral Pakistan
Contact number: 92-03449517524
Each of the RMS solutions are linked to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the UN in 2015. The SDGs that this intervention contributes to are as follows: