WCS Afghanistan

The Eastern Forests Complex in Afghanistan runs from the border of Badakhshan in the north down to Paktika Province in the southeast of Afghanistan and contains some of the last remaining temperate coniferous forest in the Greater Himalayan mountain chain. Tree cover, including both mixed oak and coniferous forests, tends naturally to be more continuous in this eastern region where precipitation is higher and less erratic than elsewhere in Afghanistan due to being on the edge of the Indian subcontinent monsoon. This habitat is so important to the world’s biodiversity index that it is now considered a Global 200 Ecoregion and is referred to as the Western Himalayan Temperate Forest. It is impressive in its biodiversity, including populations of snow leopards (Uncia uncia), at least five other wild cat species including Persian leopards (Panthera pardus),jungle cats (Felis chaus), Himalayan lynx (Lynx lynx), leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) and Pallas’ cats (Otocolobus manul), jackals (Canisaureus), crested porcupines (Hystrix indica), yellow-throated martens (Martesflavigula), Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus), wild boars (Sus scrofa) and a host of ungulate species such as Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), markhor(Capra falconeri) and urial (Ovis orientalis).

The entire eastern forests region is under tremendous pressure from deforestation. Trees are cut at unsustainable rates especially in the lower-lying oak forests, for fuel for homes and for domestic animal food. High-value timbers such as cedar are also cut to supply international markets. Additional demands on wildlife populations come from the heavy hunting levels for food and for the illegal wildlife trade in furs and other animal products.

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