PESHAWAR: WWF-Pakistan welcomed the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to protect national parks and conserve biodiversity in Pakistan.
While launching the Protected Areas Initiative of the government on Thursday, the Prime Minister in his speech asked the provinces to make serious efforts towards the protection of national parks and diverse climatic zones.
Under this initiative, a total of 15 national parks will be protected. He also highlighted the growing challenge of climate change that is causing glacier melting in the northern areas.
Commenting on PM Khan’s speech, Hammad Naqi Khan, Director General WWF-Pakistan said that it is the right time to take practical steps for the protection of national parks and improve green spaces in urban areas.
He said that the establishment and effective management of protected areas is essential to conserve the unique natural heritage of Pakistan that can help ensure sustainable supply of vital ecosystem services and decrease the adverse impacts of climate change. He also said that with loss of habitat for wildlife and reduction in green belts, the PM’s commitment to protect national parks and address climate change is a welcome move.
Khan also appreciated that the PM took note of promoting ecotourism, which is vital for the well-being of local communities and the national economy. He urged that all types of haphazard constructions should be stopped and sustainable development initiatives should be introduced without compromising the environment.
WWF-Pakistan urges that in order to be part of the global system of Protected Areas, it is imperative that the sites or areas included in the national list of Protected Areas meet the globally recognized criteria for their establishment and management. Moreover, laws should be revised in terms of the fines and penalties imposed on poaching, illegal wildlife trade, infrastructure development, unsanctioned logging and encroachment on forested land.
Earlier, WWF-Pakistan conducted a Geographic Information System (GIS) based boundary demarcation of a few national parks in Pakistan and prepared their management plans.
The same practice should also be carried out for all protected areas, especially National Parks, to manage them more effectively and identify the various management options with clear responsibilities highlighting the possible sources for finance and funding.
As part of its conservation initiative, WWF-Pakistan introduced Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART), an innovative monitoring tool for uniform data collection on biodiversity, poaching and human-wildlife conflicts based on standardized scientific protocols in national parks such as Khunjerab National Park and Central Karakoram National Park of Pakistan.
The organization has also introduced pilot interventions to manage human-wildlife conflict with special focus on carnivore species such as the common leopard, snow leopard, lynx, wolf and others in and around national parks in the northern areas of Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan emphasizes that there is an urgent need for a balanced and inclusive approach to protect green spaces, conserve biodiversity and promote sustainable development in the country.