By Dr. Ikram Ur Rahman
Sustainable Land Management Program-II
Specialists Group in Swat Pakistan under the domain of Mountains and Markets project (2014-2017) not only created and promoted entrepreneurship development among local indigenous communities but endeavored to resume vulnerable plant species in their respective habitats through awareness campaigns among stakeholders. Trillium govanianum (locally known as Matar Jari, Tin Patri or Dood Baccha) was introduced as a high market value species in 2012 by the USAID-Entrepreneurs Project. During this time the population status of the species was found satisfactory in the conservancies’ areas. Due to its high economic potential and known value to the local people, the dependent communities harshly exploited the species for its root collection and marketing with a worth of PKR: 3000- 4000/kg of dried roots. The unsustainable collection practice professed the species population as critically endangered and led to gradual disappearance of the species from the habitat with its status near extinction in the year 2015.
Interviews with the local inhabitants revealed that they have destructively exploited the species without understanding safe and technical collection means and methods. During the initial assessment the project field team observed the plant species near extinction in the habitats of its previous existence. During a transect walk of 5 km in the forest in May 2017, only three plants were recorded. Joint efforts of the project team and community biodiversity enterprises enabled the forest dwellers in Miandam, Bishigram, Mankial, Kalam, Utror, and Dir Kohistan valleys to impose a ban on further exploitation of the species and promote its regeneration. The regeneration status of the species since 2015 is now visible in forest areas of Miandam in nearby demonstration sites. Community Biodiversity Enterprise Miandam tops the scoring in the competition of this species survival. The success of species survival also led to protection of bush forming shrubs as habitat needed for the wild bird species and provided a feasible nesting environment for precious birds egging and hatching, e.g. Pheasants. This is further indication of wildlife coexistence and survival. After awareness and capacity building, the NTFP directorate of forest department is now a custodian to function for nursery propagation and transplantation of the species in the respective habitats as part of the sustainability aspect of the program. The recovery work began in 2015 after the inception of Mountains and Markets project, and Miandam valley habitat of the species was closed to public use for its collection. Restoration of the species was materialized through seed dispersal, rhizomes placement, and protection. The NTFP directorate and CBEs developed a successful method to germinate seeds and to accelerate their development into seed-producing adults for transplanting. Seeds were collected in early to mid- July. The seeds were air dried and kept for storage and propagation by the communities and directorate of NTFP as a joint venture. The species count in an area of 2 ha in compartment No: 20 of Miandam valley in 2017 rose from 73 plants to 3830 in 2018, and the same situation now prevails in other sites of Miandam forest areas. This successful recovery eff ort over the past three years is highly encouraging for species survival, as awareness of the local people and population status proceed to meet the recovery goals of the species.