Filling with stones and pebbles in a creative way to protect trees

Damaged trees are traditionally protected by indigenous people

Balochistan’s Northeast Highlands are inhibited by the Pashtun tribes, the indigenous people of the region. The region is a part of the ancient Arya Warsha (Grazing lands), the cradle of livestock that breeds domestication, especially sheep, goats, and cattle. Arya Warsha – The Cradle of Livestock Domestication

Taking a broader perspective, the region is part of the larger Zhob (Northeastern Balochistan, also called Janobi Pashtunkhawa). The region is known for its traditional & cultural values, orchard farming, and livestock breeding. There is still a strong connection between the Pashtun tribes of this region and nature. The very traditional cuisine of Persenda relies heavily on sheep, which are one of the most important livestock breeds. Persenda~Dry Meat Cousine of Pashtun Afghan

The region of Zhob is home to very valuable flora, fauna, and functional livestock breeds, which I have described in my series of articles.

Habitat of precious wild flora such as; Pistachio and Olive

The region is rich with the living fossils of ancient wild trees like Pistachio and Olive, but due to human population pressure, scarcity of energy sources, and price hikes in the region, indigenous people depend primarily on natural resources like trees and livestock manure for energy. Increasing pressure is being placed on the olden trees and bushes, causing deforestation and leading to severe soil erosion. Loggers are also active in the region, cutting trees to make a profit since they can get high prices for the wood.

Olive forest in Zhob Balochistan
Olive forest in Zhob Balochistan

Indigenous have long engaged in a tradition of nature preservation – Pargorr

Pargorr is a time-honored technique for protecting the environment and recovering grazing grounds.

The phrase (Pargorr) refers to the protected areas, which might be either forests or grazing lands. The livestock is permitted to graze on the Pergorr grazing fields when the grasses reach maturity after a specific amount of time. In order to protect their livestock from infections in the plain lands and to designate the plain lands as a Pargorr for the winter season, the transhumant livestock grazing communities relocate to the highland regions during the rainy season (July and August). The native people have named the rainy season Wassa.

The Pargorr of the woodlands are permitted to graze, but cutting off trees or bushes is strictly forbidden. Grass cutting is permitted for a specific amount of time. Even the cutting of a stick for halting the livestock is forbidden for the grazer. The native people believe that a violation of the woodland Pargorr will result in punishment from Allah, as the community elders declared the woodland to be a sacred area by Quraan.

Filling with stones and pebbles in a creative way to protect trees
Filling with stones and pebbles in a creative way to protect trees

To be collected and used for fuel and other purposes, only dry wood in the trees and fallen wood on the ground are permitted. Some evil people invent a justification for tree chopping, secretly injuring the old trees’ trunks and gradually killing them. Once a tree exhibits an indication of death, it is then declared to be inhabited. By designating these trees as protected with stone sculpture, a really ingenious and wise traditional practice has arisen to preserve these trees.

The traditional method for the protection of the olden trees

Filling tree cavities with stones and pebbles is a traditional approach to giving a tree a personal touch. It also serves as a reminder to preserve the tree as a valuable natural resource and to refrain from cutting any wood from it. This is a customary approach to safeguard trees in numerous ways, including from wind, additional deterioration, and cutting. It is a traditional Pashtun tribal ritual among some upland populations in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The next collection has numerous images of trees with their trunks artistically packed with stones and pebbles.

Some more benefits of stones filling traditional practice

  • This procedure serves as a formality and warning to prevent people from touching and cutting the tree.
  • The diurnal temperature variations may generate dew, and the trees may then reabsorb the moisture
  • Certainly discourages chainsaws! Which are likely a significant threat to current fuel prices
  • Might offer extra habitat. But I agree. In a way, it looks nice
  • This has been one of the very old methods in the Lorestan region, the city of Aliguderz
  • So much can be learned from traditional conservation.
  • This practice limits the amount of heat that enters the tree’s interior
  • According to the indigenous people’s traditional knowledge, this practice guards the tree against dryness, extremely hot airwaves, fungus, and other dangerous microorganisms

Possible disadvantages of the practice (Experts’ opinion)

  • It will not protect them from fungi or bacteria, indeed, may encourage them (an expert opinion)
  • Depending on exposure, the stone could become hotter than the wood, which would lead to more dehydration
  • It will merely obstruct the wood’s inherent strength and movement
  • This practice would not provide some structural support if the predominant winds were to come from the opposite direction

Ashar movement and the conservation of the nature

The Ashar organization promotes environmental protection and the preservation of natural resources, particularly the local flora, and fauna.  An ancient Pashtun custom known as Ashar involves the entire community working together for a common goal. It is practiced in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the past 15 years, the author has fought for the preservation and sustainable use of natural resources through online campaigns, neighborhood gatherings, publications, and short films. Facebook live has been incredibly helpful over the past three years as the author has been speaking every Friday to instruct people in nature conservation.

Putting conservation into action and starting the Ashar movement

The official beginning of the Ashar movement was made possible in large part by Salmeen Khpalwakan environmental activist and multimedia journalist for VOA Pashtu.

Salmeen Khpalwak, organizer of the Ashar movement
Salmeen Khpalwak, organizer of the Ashar movement

He is actively working to preserve the region’s rare  plants and animals and to regreen it with plantations. One powerful representative from each district in Northeastern Balochistan makes up his very capable team, which he has led to success. Here is his Facebook link

The Ashar movement practically materialized the protection of nature and the reforestation of thousands of trees during the period of 3 years. The movement has a very impressive image in the community and many people in the region are voluntarily working with the Ashar.  Here is the link to the Twitter handle for the Ashar movement.
I shall be very thankful for your comments and feedback to polish our work and improve our practices for the conservation of nature.


2 thoughts on “Damaged trees are traditionally protected by indigenous people”

  1. Thank you Dr Raziq for the excellent post and presentation. The wisdom of people who preserve the trees is wonderful to read about, as it is of paramount importance that trees are protected, planted and loved to save our planet from ecological problem..I cannot thank you enough for writing about as not many people ar aware of their work or even being. I will look up the link provided, thank you.


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