PESHAWAR: Sesbania, an environment friendly and fast-growing plant species, has been grown for the first time in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) on experimental basis under the commercial forestry concept.
“A small forest spreading over an area of 259 acres of land has been grown in Tehkal area of Peshawar,” disclosed ZRK Group of Industries Forestry Director Mujtaba Ali Zaidi.
Zaidi said this is the first time that sesbania had been introduced in KP and if the experiment proved successful, it would change the concept of commercial forestry in the region where the main focus of growers for now was on planting poplar and eucalyptus trees. He also said that ZRK industry took the risk of experimenting with sesbania plantation by purchasing the seed from Sind province which proved successful.
It is pertinent to mention here that sesbania is not only environmentally friendly because of being leguminous and having nitrogen-fixing capability, but it is also a fast-growing tree which gets ready for harvesting within a period of two-and-a-half years to three years.
Furthermore, Zaidi said that the growing period of poplar and eucalyptus plants was five to six years and environmentalists had also raised objections over the above-mentioned species for using too much water. Whereas, sesbania was environmentally and economically beneficial because it reached maturity faster and used less resources in the process, he added.
He said that that the ZRK group had obtained 259 acres of land in Tehkal from Pakistan Army on lease basis and planted thousands of trees there which turned into a small forest in a short span of time.
Meanwhile, ZRK Manager Forestry Muhammad Nauman said that, “Sesbania is a pea family plant and its leaves are highly nutritious because of symbiotic bacteria found in its roots.” While talking about the Tehkal plantation, Nauman said that sesbania seeds were planted there in August 2016 and within a year the trees have grown considerably. Sharing his experience of growing sesbania in KP for the first time, he said the plant needed care and proper water during the initial stages of growth. He also informed that sesbania was a flower producing plant and therefore growers could also introduce bee farming in the forest.
According to Nauman, such experiments should be conducted by the forest department, especially Pakistan Forest Institute (PFI), for introducing new tree species for plantation which could fulfill the needs of the timber industry in the country. Early harvesting period would also attract more plantation efforts which would help in increasing the country’s fast depleting green cover, he added.