As mercury plummets, people burn endangered Juniper trees in Ziarat


: Photo By News Lens Pakistan / Matiullah Achakzai

Ziarat ( Balochistan): White smoke coming out of metal chimneys on houses covered in snow is visible from all over the Ziarat valley.

As the year’s first snow fall lands softly on the Juniper forests in Ziarat, the poor people of the valley are desperate for fuel to keep themselves warm as the mercury plunges below 6 degree centigrade.

But there is no fuel to burn in Ziarat, except the endangered juniper forests with trees as old as 3000 years.

A peep inside the houses reveal stacks of Juniper woods stored by families to guard them against Ziarat’s biting cold.

It takes a juniper tree 4,000 to 5,000 years to grow to a full size. So slow is the growth, a tree grows only an inch a year, according to forestry experts.

Samad Khan, 54, keeps his new born baby warm with fire from Juniper trees. He burns the wood in a metal stove, its exhaust pipe poking through the snow covered roof of his house.

“Though we have gas, the pressure drops with the snow and cold,” says Samad Khan. “We are forced to burn whatever we can because the cold can kill my babies.”

The endangered Juniper forests of Ziarat, believed to be the second largest in the world, are on the UNESCO’s world heritage list. UNESCO has added it to the World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

“A couple of months ago, President Manoon Hussain and Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited the Ziarat valley but none of them announced any plans to preserve this natural wealth,” Tariq Khan, 28, a university student hailing from Ziarat told News Lens.


  1. the hole community of Ziarat are appreciated NEWSLENS efforts for the Community of Ziarat and International Biosphere Ecosystem Ziarat , raly this time ziarat community in worst condition this is no Gas and Electricity , their is unavailable of Drinking water , in( -16) , we are demand to Government take strong action against this valid report of NEWSLENS , thank You Malik Khan Achakzai for the visit of Ziarat in very cold season we hope you will made another good report for community in Balochistan.

  2. Cutting of junipers forest is going on as cold increase day to day. This practice is continued since long time and no security steps for the forest is being taken from Government and Forest Department. We live in the district and we feel our future totally dark regarding tourism and livelihood that’s obviously bound to these forests. The Forest officials are involved in cutting and smuggling of juniper trees. We appeal higher authorities through this website to please for God do something to reserve these forests.


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