Pakistan is home to many wonderful places. One of these is the Changa Manga forest. It is believed to be one of the world’s largest man-planned and man-grown forests. Planted in 1890 by the then ruling British, its aim was to provide wood fuel for the railway steam engines.
The forest is located close to Lahore around 70 Kilometers from the city and covers a massive 48.6 square kilometers, or 12,000 acres.
Why call it Changa Manga?
The name is based on folklore. There is a story of two brothers called Changa and Manga who were thieves and used to hide in thick forests to escape the authorities. Stories of these brothers turned into adventures that every child in that area knows about.
The Changa Manga forest is located approximately 10 Km east of the National Highway between Lahore and Sahiwal. Due to its huge area it falls simultaneously within the Kasur District and Lahore District of Punjab.
The plantation of Changa Manga began in the year 1866. The initial working plan was developed by Mr. B. Ribbentrop in the years 1871-72 and the first harvest from the mature forest began in 1881-82. It wasn’t until 1888 that the British decided to plant Sheesham Wood, or Dalbergia sissoo, in a large area of the forest.
The forest is an amazing habitat and has various types of trees. The species of trees found in the forest are Acacia Nilotica (Kikar), Dalbergia Sissoo (Sheesham), Eucalyptus (Safaidah), Morus Alba (White Mulberry) and some Populus species.
Changa Manga is also a very important place for restocking projects of Asiatic vultures in Pakistan. The WWF started a restoration program for Gyps Vulture in 2006 to help conserve and breed endangered species of Gyps.
The forest houses a wildlife park, a water turbine, waterfall, and a children’s play area. Tourists can also enjoy a train ride through the forest and boating on the Lunar Lake.
In addition to all of this there is also a Changa Manga Tourist Resort situated around 80 km from Lahore.
Being Cut Down
The issue of deforestation has however hit Changa Manga hard as well. The forest is being cut down so quickly that more than 60 percent of the Changa Manga Wildlife Park has been deforested!