Burning hills

June 4, 2018

Since the start of summers there have been numerous incidents of fire in the Magalia Hills. As a result hundred of trees have been burnt down, which make take years to restore. Although wildfires can be caused due to natural causes but the sheer number of incidents in the Margalla Hills have raised suspicion of arson. In fact, a case has also been registered with the Kohsar police against unidentified individuals for causing the fire, in response to a complaint lodged by officials of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board. As per the First Information Report, the board had foiled previous attempted by unidentified individuals had tried to set fire to the hills, but two people on a motorcycle had set fire to the park near Talhar Mor on Daman-i-Koh Road. On Sunday civil society activists protested in front of the Islamabad Press Club and demanded the authorities to take action against those involved in the arson and ensure better preparation to tackle the fires. In addition over the last week hundreds of citizens have taken to social media to share the pictures of the burning hills asking the authorities to take action.
Roughly 40 km long and spread over 12,605 hectares; the Margalla Hills National Park (MHNP) was declared a national park back in 1980, under Section 21(1) of the Islamabad Wildlife (protection, conservation and management) Ordinance, 1979 and also affirmed as a wildlife sanctuary. This status strictly prohibits any commercial activity and settlement in the area. This park is an extension of the Islamabad wildlife sanctuary, which includes the Shakarparian Hills and the Rawal Lake park. The Shakarparian Hills (now no more a hill) and the Rawal Lake is also under threat thanks to the non-existent environmental checks.
But a chain of hotels, illegal urban encroachments, over exploitation of the parks resources and tree chopping has put the delicate ecosystem of the park, home also to a host of endangered species under threat. The park was rich in biodiversity and home to around 600 plant species, 250 bird varieties, 38 mammals and 13 species of reptiles. The authorities need to take urgent measures to ensure that the park is secured for our future generations.
Hundreds of trees have been burnt due to the recent frequent fires in the Margalla Hills.