.

PROFILE

SHABBIR H. KHANDWALA

COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
COMPANY PROFILE 1- ZRG CALL CENTER AT WORK: BANK ALFALAH CALL CENTER
2- SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS - WORLD'S FASTEST GROWING BRAND IN THE WORLD.
SOCIETY 1- PERFORMANCE MEASUREMENT AND GOOD GOVERNANCE
2- GLOBAL CORRUPTION
ENVIRONMENT TREES PLANTING IN DESERT AREAS OF COUNTRY

 

TREES PLANTING IN DESERT AREAS OF THE COUNTRY

It is very difficult to regreen desert areas without a scientific plan and some sustained effort

By Dr. S.M. ALAM, NIA, Tandojam
Nov 10 - 16, 2003 
. 

 

 

Deserts constitute a greater part of arid zones of the world. They have been considered useless for agricultural cultivation, but modern plant physiology approaches have revealed their agricultural potentialities. Recent developments in hydrology show the presence of groundwater resources in the deserts, which could be exploited for irrigation. Low and medium salinity groundwater (EC 0-250 and 250-750 mmhos/cm) can be used for irrigation on most of the desert soils, where a certain amount of leaching occurs. High salinity water, EC 750-2250 mmhos/cm, can be used for irrigation on the sandy soils with adequate drainage. Water having EC 2250-5000 mmhos/cm is classified as very highly saline and is not suitable for irrigation under ordinary conditions. However, it may be used on most permeable desert soils for growing salt tolerant plants.

Due to people's requirements of fuel wood, small timber and fodder all of these areas have been under very heavy biotic pressure. Vegetations have almost disappeared and owing to poor site quality and increase in human and cattle population, it is very difficult to regreen desert areas without a scientific plan and some sustained effort.

THAR DESERT: Thar desert lies between Indus River and Run of Kutch. It covers an area of 2.65 million hectares in Tharparkar, Nawabshah, Khairpur, Sukkur and Sanghar districts. The area comprises of sand dunes of 20-200 meter in elevation. Climate of the desert is very arid with annual rainfall between 100 and 300 mm. The rainwater flowing down the sand hills does not move as runoff, but is absorbed in the surface ground. It is subsequently lost largely in the atmosphere by evaporation and transpiration and the rest percolates down in the ground in small quantities. Cultivation to a limited extent is done on rain water. The crops grown on rain water are bajra, till, sarseem and castor. Maximum temperature upto 45C is recorded in May-June, while January and February are the coldest months (2-5C).

Wind erosion is a characteristic feature of the Thar desert. The movement of wind determines sand dunes formation in summer, which is a natural phenomenon. Illicit cutting and heavy grazing of trees/shrubs are accelerated fast the erosion scenario. Sand dunes consist of structureless material. Vegetation of the tract is essentially dictated by the stage of formation of sand dunes and presence of groundwater. Some of important species found in the Thar desert are: Acacia arabica, Acacia senegal, Cactus tamarisk, Cenchrus biflorus, Eleushine flagellifen, Euphorbia caducifolia, Lasiurus sindicus, Panicum turgidum, Prosopis cineraria, Salsolafoetida, Tecoma undulata, Ziziphus mauritiana. In the Thar area only those places, where groundwater for human and cattle consumption is available are populated. The economy of Thar depends largely on grazing. Complete failure of rain in one year or partial failure in two successive years often causes faminine. Many tracts are uninhabitable mainly for want of drinking water, which lies buried as deep as 300 feet.

 

 

THAL DESERT: This desert stretches over an area of 2.6 million hectares in Khushab, Mianwali, Bhakkar, Leiah, Muzaffargarh and Jhang districts. The tract is covered by the piedmont of the salt range in the north, the Indus River flood plains in the west, Jhelum and Chenab River flood plains to the east. The mean maximum and minimum temperatures recorded in the tract are about 44C and less than 0C, respectively. The heavy wind movements affect the amount and distribution of rainfall in the desert, which is mostly received during monsoon. It varies from 135 mm in the south to 350 mm in the north-eastern region of the tract.

The soils are alluvial with sandy textured sand dunes covering 50 to 60 percent of the area. The most common species are: Acacia jacquemontii, Aristida depressa, Calligonum polygonoides, Cenchrus ciliaris, Cymbopogon jwarancusa, Eleusine flagellifera, Leptadenia spartium, Prosopis cineraria, Suaeda fruticosa, Salvadora oleides, Tamarix articulata, Ziziphus jujuba are grown all over the desert areas. Heavy grazing and ruthless cutting of trees and shrubs has continued in the area for many centuries, which has resulted in complete disappearance of several desirable species. Surface soil normally has been washed away due to heavy wind erosion and thus heap of sand dunes have become unstable.

CHOLISTAN DESERT: Cholistan desert is located in the southern part of Punjab. It covers an area of 2.6 million hectares with the districts of Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan. Climate of the area is characterized by hot summers and cold winters. Mean minimum and maximum temperatures are 2C and 49C, respectively. Rainfall is erratic and ranges from 100 to 200 mm, annually. Soils of the tract are saline and gypsiferous. The plant species grown are Calligonum polygonoides, Cymobopogon jwarancush, Cenchrus ciliaris, Capparis aphylla, Eleusine flagellifera, Lasiurus sindicus, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oleoides, Ziziphus mummularia mummularia.

THE CHAGI-KHARAN: This tract covers an area of 23,000 km2 in upland Balochistan, stretching over Chagi and Kharan districts. Climate of the tract is very arid and sub-tropical. Long hot summer (45C) and cold winter (5C) and low precipitation control the growing pattern of vegetation. Average annual rainfall varies between 80 to 170 mm, which is primarily received during monsoon. Vegetation of the area is predominantly Tamarix aphylla, Prosopis cineraria, Calligonum polyonoides, Cenchrus ciliaris, Cymobopogon jwarancusa, Eleusine flagellifera, Sulvadora oleoides. The productivity of range lands has deteriorated due to heavy local as well as nomadic livestock grazing.

The desert areas of the country can be successfully utilized for growing vegetable as well as other crops hydroponically using amended nutrient solution. Such works have been successfully done at NIA, Tandojam in desert sands collected from desert area of Umerkot and Thana Bulla Khan near Super highway for growing tomato, snake melon (kakri), cucumber, watermelon, etc. under pot and glass house conditions.