Pakistan’s largest juniper forest is located in this reserve. The forest ecosystem is of inestimable value for biodiversity conservation. It is also of great ecological significance, providing local, regional and global benefits.
Designation date: 2013
Regional network: SACAM
Ecosystem-based network: Mountains
Surface : 111,852 ha
- Core area(s): 11,243 ha
- Buffer zone(s): 60,519 ha
- Transition zone(s): 40,090 ha
Location: 30°23′54″N – 067°44′00″E
Ziarat Juniper Biosphere Reserve
Secretary, Forest & Wildlife Department
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The biosphere reserve is home to the largest area of juniper forest (juniperus excelsa polycarpus) in Pakistan, covering about 110 000 ha. It is believed that the forest is the second largest of its kind in the world. The juniper tree species found there are of global significance because of their advanced age and slow growth rate. In fact, the junipers of Ziarat are among the oldest living trees in the world. Although no dendrological study has yet been conducted, according to one estimate the age of a mature tree can exceed 1 500 years. Local people refer to the trees as ‘living fossils’ and this remarkable longevity allows research into past weather conditions in the region, making the species of special significance for climate change and ecological studies.
The juniper forest ecosystem of Ziarat provides a habitat for endangered wildlife species and supports a rich diversity of plant species. Because of its rich biodiversity the different areas of the ecosystem have been assigned the status of protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. The mountain ranges, including Khalifat mountain, consist of a core habitat reportedly hosting several globally important wild species, among them Suleman Markhor, Urial, black bears and wolves. The forests also serve as a habitat for a number of other species: Afghan Pica, foxes, jackals and several species of migratory birds. However, various anthropological factors such as illegal hunting, human habitations and livestock grazing have encroached on the wildlife habitats leading to their fragmentation.
The human population, distributed across various sub-tribes and clans, is concentrated in valleys, although small settlements are visible on mountain slopes. There are over 100 000 people living within or in close proximity to the biosphere reserve, most of whom are agro-pastoralists by profession. Almost 40 per cent of the population migrate in winter to summer abodes in Harnai for a period of three to four months.
Livestock was formerly the primary source of livelihoods in the reserve. Today, its prominence has been displaced by the development of agriculture and in particular the promotion of horticultural crops such as apple and cherry orchards.
Last updated: July 2019