Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Afghanistan: Apr/May '10

IWPR story on threat to pistachio trees prompts moves to protect them.

An IWPR report about the destruction of valuable pistachio forests in Baghlis province has significantly raised awareness of the importance of protecting this natural resource, local officials say.

The article, Badghis Pistachio Forests Face Destruction, described concerns that poverty and a lack of fuel was causing locals to cut down the nut trees.

Following its publication on May 13, director of agriculture in Badghis province, Hafiz Binesh, said that he received calls from many reporters and media representatives asking for information about the pistachio forests. He attributed this new interest to the impact of the IWPR story.

Gholam Sakhi Peshtaz, head of natural resources, forests and arable land for the AECID organisation, under the Spanish Provincial Reconstruction Team in Badghis province, said publication of the report has made their work much easier.

He said the publicity had helped them to gather 160 tribal elders and representatives of people from Abkamari, Moqor, Qads, Balamorghab and Ghormach districts together with representatives of nomads in a three-day-workshop in Qala-e Naw in Badghis province, where they were trained on how to protect pistachio forests.

He said that all the workshop participants pledged not to cut down the forests anymore and to protect them.

Abdolghani Saberi, deputy governor of Badghis, also said that following publication of the report, provincial officials had met with tribal representatives and forest residents many times.

Following these sessions, locals became aware of the damage their livestock could inflict on the forests, he said.

“As a result of our meetings with tribal representatives in Badghis, the people have now taken their cattle and camels out of the forests,” he said.

Saberi added that a delegation is to go to southern Herat province to work on the prevention of pistachio forest destruction and talk to the local officials.

Meanwhile, Abdolqayum Afghan, director of environment in Herat province, welcomed IWPR’s story.

“The report has been felt in the media and even in government offices and I hope such reporting will continue,” he said.

He added that in the wake of the story, his department devised a forest protection plan to be implemented in cooperation with the respective government offices.

The story was also followed up by other media outlets including the Pamir monthly and Radio Faryad in Herat province.

Herat radio journalist Wali Mohammad Hadid said that after reading the piece on the IWPR website, he was inspired to make his own report about the deteriorating condition of the forests too.

“The work of IWPR reporters is really admirable. This media outlet is a good source for finding facts and good sources for other media outlets. So far as I am concerned, reports of this media outlet have had extraordinary impact,” he said.