Azakhel botanical garden: Saga of neglect, poor management

PESHAWAR: The Azakhel botanical garden, Nowshera has started losing its significance and biodiversity owing to sheer negligence and mismanagement on the part of relevant organisations.

Established on about 83 acres land at village Azakhel on main GT Road in Nowshera district, Azakhel botanical garden, which was setup with a vision of promoting conservation, education, sustainable utilization and capacity building of students in the field of plant biodiversity to serve innocent creatures and humanity, is deteriorating due to poor maintenance and needs immediate attention of the government to prevent it from being deserted.

The garden has almost turned into lake where the standing rains and floods water marred its beauty.

“I visited Azakhel botanical garden on every weekend to spend some time in its relaxed environment amid birds chanting on trees and blossom of flowers,” said Riaz Khan, a retired school teacher of Pabbi Tehsil Nowshera while talking to APP.

He said that it was heartbreaking to see the present deterioated condition of Azakhel botanical garden with no flowers, poor footpaths and urged KP government to restore it in original form.

Official source told APP on Tuesday that University of Peshawar had initiated work on this mega project in April 2004 and later the Higher Education Commission (HEC) provided about Rs 37.861 million for development of Azakhel botanical garden in October 2004.

He said KP government had managed the transfer of developed land of Azakhel park spreading over an area of 83 acres on December 16, 2005 to the University of Peshawar.

Besides establishment of the botanical garden, a Centre of Plant Biodiversity (CPB) was established in February 2006.

He said CPB was aimed to develop a botanical garden at Azakhel Nowshera, including museum, research laboratories, botanical nurseries, green houses, conference hall, lecture theaters, library and faculty offices for training of students leading to non-degree and degree awarding programmes like short courses, diplomas, B.S., M. Phil. and Ph. D degrees in various disciplines of the plant biodiversity.

The centre also provides forum for exchange of mutual ideas by arranging conferences, seminars, workshops and other gatherings.

The main objectives of the centre of plant biodiversity was to create national research centre of excellence in the diverse fields of Plant Biodiversity including Plant Systematics, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Medicinal Plants, Ethnobotany, Germplasm evaluation, Genetic Screening, introduction, propagation, cultivation of ornamental plants and cryo-preservation.

He said its main objectives was to develop and manage scientific collection, documentation and preservation of national plant resources in the herbarium as permanent source for research.

Its main aim was to grow and manage protection of rare, endangered and valuable species from diverse habitats of the region in the University of Peshawar Botanical Garden (UPBG) as a living permanent record for education, research, capacity building and healthy recreation besides national botanical database management.

In addition to promote scientists of Pakistan internationally in the field of botanical database management and provide a base for conservation, sustainable management and use of national plant natural resources, he said, the garden was mandated to pursue research, education and training relevant to various disciplines of plant biodiversity.

He said the garden was tasked to play vital role in implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Global Strategy for Plant Conservation, National Conservation Strategy (NCS), Provincial Conservation Strategies (PCS) and National Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP-N) besides creating healthy academic and recreational avenues for various segments of the community especially students and faculty members.

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