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INTRODUCTION

1.1 The study area

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Chitral,
the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa having 14850 k

, is located
in the extreme North-East of the province and lies between 71° 11′ 32″ to
73° 51′ 34″ E and 35 15′  06″
to 36° 55? 32″ N. Area wise, this district occupied 19.93% of the province
with a sole geographical position. Its borders are connected with Ghizer, Northern
areas of Pakistan on its Eastern side on south it is connected with Swat and
Dir districts, by West the district is linked with Afghanistan (Nooristan), on
its North-Western part it is connected with Central Asia (Tajikistan) via
Wakhan corridor (Ali & Qaisar, 2009).

1.1.1 Topography

Chitral is
situated in the base of highest peak of Hindukush range i.e. the Terichmir. The
district is divided into several valleys but Mastuj valley is the largest
valley extends up to Broghil at northern part. The lower part of Chitral i.e.
Arandu start from the southern tip of Afghan border, (Pervez, 2014).Chitral is located
in the wide range of altitude which starts with the elevation of 1127.76 m to
7787.64 m (In Terichmir peak). The landscape of Chitral not only enhance the
beauty of the area but also play an important role for biodiversity i.e. flora
and fauna (Rafiq & Ullah, 2007). The three famous
mountain ranges surrounded the district i.e. Hindukush range in North-West
bordering with Afghanistan, Hindu Raj range in South-East and Karakoram range
sandwiched between Hindukush and Hindu Raj in Shandoor area (Ali & Qaisar, 2009).

Chitral
is counted among the localities with highest peaks in the world about 40
mountains having more than 6,100 ft., of elevation surrounds the district.
Because of its high elevation there are only two passes leads to Chitral for
transportation i.e. Lowari Pass (10230 ft.) connect Chitral to Dir District at
southern part and Shandoor top (12,200 ft.) connecting Chitral to Gilgit but
both passes turn into unreachable during winter season due to snowfall. However
many other (non transportable) passes are also present namely Darkot pass
(between Chitral and Ghizer), Arandu pass (between Pakistan and Afghanistan),
Broghol pass (between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Wakhan corridor), Dorah pass
(between Pakistan and Afghanistan), Darkot pass (between Chitral and Ghizer)
and Thoi and Zagaran passes between Chitral and Gilgit Baltistan (Anon., March
10, 2017).

 

1.1.2    Administration

Administratively, Chitral
is divided into two Tehsils i.e. Chitral and Mastuj having 24 union councils (Anon.,
March 10, 2017). Union councils of Chitral are;  Ayun, Broze, Koh, Denin, Chitral-I,
Chitral-II, Arandu, Asherat, Drosh-I, Drosh-II, Shishikoh, Karimabad, Lotkuh
and Shoghore in tehsil Chitral while in tehsil Mastuj union councils are  Charun, Laspur, Mastuj, Yarkhoon, Kosht,
Ovir, Mulkoh, Terich, Khot and Shagram (Anon.,
2015).
Population of Chitral is about 320,000
individuals. The area is rich in cultural point of view where the native
peoples inhabited since 4,000 years ago. Fourteen local languages are spoken in
the area (Hadi & Ibrar, 2014). About
88 % of the population inhabited in rural areas, while 12 % population is
living in urbanized environment (Anon., 2015).

1.1.3    Population

According to the census 2017 the population of Chitral is
447,362, male
occupied 225,846 while female are 221,515 which are 50.5% and 49.5%
respectively. Total 89.9% of the population is living in rural areas while
10.1% living in urbanized areas (Anon.,
December 31, 2017).

 

 

1.1.4    Climate:

On the base of ecological
zones the area is divided into three main regions i.e. Dry temperate zone with
the elevation of 1000 m to 2000 m, Sub-Alpine zone from 2000 m to 3500 m and
alpine zone from the elevation of more than 3500 m to 4800 m (Ali, 2009). Chitral has dry
climate in the winter and during which temperature drops even into ­10 °C, snow
fall reaches up to two feet some time at most of the town places of Chitral,
But at high altitude the snow fall can reach into 70 feet during a harsh
winter. Chitral is situated under the shadow of high mountains therefore
moonsoon is not precipitating in Chitral. Chitral town receives 500 mm rainfall
mainly in spring and winter. Most of the upper Chitral receives 200 mm snow
fall in winter (Anon., 2015).

1.1.5    Hydrology

River
system of Chitral is also an important source for agro-economical purposes, the
originating point of the river is Qarumbura Lake at its northern part and the
biggest glacier of Chitral, Chianter Glacier. The river flows towards its south
passing through Yarkhun valley hence the river is named as Yarkhun River than
it became Mastuj river in Mastuj where a small river also get there from Laspur
valley then alternatively Torkhow river joined it (at Bumbagh) and then after
at Gankorini (an area just few mile away from Chitral town) Lotkuh river meet
up and both now called as Chitral river. The river flows into Afghanistan and
then again in Pakistan after being Kabul River (Ali,
2009).

The source of drinking and irrigation water is the snow depositions
during winter, meeting 90 percent of current needs. Almost every village in
Chitral is served by present of surrounding mountains from where water falls
into the village via small irrigation channels constructed by the local
inhabitant by their own source (Anon., 2015).

 

1.1.5    Forest
and Agriculture

20 percent of the
landscape is covered by pasture and forest, 76 % of the area is consist of
rocks, mountains and glaciers, In 2001 fisheries department was merged into
Agriculture Department at the district level, most of the local peoples
traditionally practiced agriculture specially on grain production and livestock
rearing (Anon., 2015). The
forest area of Chitral District has estimated about 41,949 hectors. The main
exploitation of the forest is for fuel wood and building constructions. The
forest is under the monitoring of Forest Department District Chitral, never the
less forest is used by the local community efficiently, it is estimated that 25
to 25000 metric tons forest used for fuel purposes per year and about 13% among
the local peoples used forest as the main source of their income and more than
80 % people dependant on forest indirectly (Decker,
1992).

 

1.2     Introduction
to Junipers

1.2.1    Morphology
and Habitat

Juniperus L. is the most diverse genera of conifers, its phylogenetic studies
shows that the Juniperus is the most
advance coniferous genera (Adams, 2014). The
genus is monophyletic, Juniperus L.
is divided into two sections i.e. Juniperus and Sabina, and three subsections
i.e. Juniperus, Oxycedrus and Caryocedrus, but species belong to which section
is unclear and confusing (Guvendiren, 2015). Total of
seventy (70) species yet explored from the world (Adams, 2008). There are five
species found in Pakistan as well. The junipers have an open canopy and having
the potential to reach up to height of 20 m and ability to grow on shallow and
stony soil in harsh environmental conditions (Sarangzai
et al., 2012). Junipers are colonized
in severe environmental conditions like in rocks, hilly areas and drought
nutrients poor soil. Depression of others plants and acidic soil conditions may
not affect the growth of junipers because of their physio-morphological
characteristics. These are considerably important to prevent soil erosion due
to its deep and well developed root system especially on a nutrients poor soil
where others plants cannot grow and soil susceptible to erosion (Zangiabadiet al.,
2012).The junipers have the ability to grow on extensive range of
elevation from plain at sea level to 3,600 m (Tavankar,
2015).

 Juniperus
communis is one of the important species in UK Biodiversity Action Plan, due
to its highly exploitation level, population degradation and lack of
regeneration in its habitat and also because the juniper is one among three
native conifer of United Kingdom (Broome, 2003).
The reproductive parts of junipers are fruits or barries, seeds dispersal
occurs through birds and other small rudents. Shapes of the cones are varied
from spherical, ovaid and berrylike (Guvendiren, 2015). Junipers tree has
the abality to protect water shed and exposed soil, junipers is very durable
due to its seasoned heartwood and strongly encouraged in both indoor and
outdoor construction (Couralet et al.,
2010).

Juniperus
communis often called as common juniper, one of the important
species of Juniperus, it is scented
and curative shrub. It is wild in most of the forest. Alcohol can be prepared
with the help of extraction of oil of this species as well as nonalcoholic drinks.
Barries, foliage and essential oil are used in folk medicines to cure many
diseases (Mastelic et al., 2000). Largest
juniper reserves of the world
is found in California, United States of America, the reserved refer as living
fossils due to 4,000 to 5,000 estimated age of some species of Juniperus. The forest remains a source
of recreational activities for the peoples around the world (Achakzai at al.,
2016). Natural forests of junipers are habitat of epiphytic
micro flora and provide a complex habitat for micro organisms and other
communities. Survival and regeneration of micro flora on junipers depends upon
the favorable biotic and a biotic conditions (Alamri, 2008).

Previous
studies show that re-growth of junipers is very slow and in grazing area it may
be difficult to regenerate. The age structure and seed characteristics of
junipers have been studied in the northwest of Iran and reported that the
extinction risk of junipers are less because of high seed production capability.
It is also reported that 13% of seeds were damaged due to grazing of both wild
and domestic animals but good quality of seeds production can maintain the
natural regeneration of junipers. Junipers are vulnerable for deforestation
both in arid and semi arid regions due to its best timber and fuel wood character (Tavankar,
2015).

Juniperus communis has great importance on ecological point of
view as different endemic flora and fauna are associated with this plant species
in a co-existence as well as because of its strong soil holding capability
(Garcia et al., 1999).

1.2.2    Distribution
and Magnitude in the World

Juniperus L. is
the genus of Cupressaceae family, comprising 70 species distributed in the world
from sea level to tree linen (Adams, 2008). Junipers are distributed
in North America, Europe, North Africa, West Asia, Central Asia and South Asia (Sarangzai
et al., 2012). They are found from northern
hemisphere to Southern Africa (Tavankar, 2015). Juniperus procera distributed Hungary in the west, in Russia, China
and Myanmar, eastern Africa through Arabia and southern Africa, the population
extended to Nubian Hills in southern Egypt all east African plateau western
part of the Nile to Malawi and Zimbabwe. Same species also distributed in
Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania and
Zimbabwe. Most of their distribution range is 1750–2500 m of elevation (Couralet et
al., 2010).

Juniper and Pinon
woodland currently occupied about 74 million acre in the western United States
i.e. Central and Eastern Oregon, North Eastern California, Southwestern Idaho
and northeastern Nevada (Miller et al., 2005). The junipers are native
to Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritera, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,
Sodan, Yemen, and exotic to Australia, India and South Africa (Orwa et al., 2009).

Junipers
are among the basic constituetns of the woodland of both arid and semi arid regions
of Central Asia, East Africa and Middle East (Matwani, 2011). Juniperus procera
forests were abundant in the highlands of Ethiopia once covered about 0.2
million hectares, it was the largest juniper forests in the continent of Africa
In 1955 which was some of three percent of the total forest area of Ethiopia. Deforestation,
timber cutting and other utilization caused much reduction in the magnitude of
forest in the region (Couralet et al., 2010).

In Turkey junipers occupied
about more than 1.2 million ha and represented by 6 Juniperus species namely Juniperus
oxycedrus L. (Prickly ceder), J.
phoenicea, J.sabina, J.communis, J. foetidissima and J. excelsa. The J. excelsa frequently distributed in the eastern Mediterranean,
North-Eastern Greece and Southern Bulgaria across Turkey to Syria, Lebanon and
Caucasus between the altitudinal range of 1000 to 2000 m. Sub specie of J. excelsa subsp. polycarpos found around the Caspian Sea into Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Kirgizstan and Himachal Pradesh (India), Great desert plateaus in
Iran and Jalal-al-Akhdarin Oman (Ozkan et al., 2010).

Juniperus communis is cosmoplitant in
distribution but after anthropogenic distruction specially after burning  the ability to regrowth become extremely slow
or none (Garcia et al., 1999; Cartan
& Gosling, 2013).

Elevation has a great impotance in the life cycle of junipers
as it has been studied that the junipers in the altidunal range of 1850 m to
2850 m shows poor regeneration potential, poor seeds and cones formation and shows
die-back,  while higher than 2800m of
altitude the junipers shows healthy way of life as it was studied in Asir
Highland of Saudi Arabia (Fisher, 1997).

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