GILGIT (PR): IUCN Pakistan organized an Orientation Session on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Area. The session was organized under the Italian funded project titled: “Global Assessment of the State of Nature and Biodiversity Safeguarding Actions in Northern Pakistan”. It was a hybrid event where 22 officials of GB Forest, Wildlife and Environment Department, GBRSP, WWF, KVO and other organizations participated in-person, while over 50 officials of the forest and wildlife provincial departments, representatives from Ministry of Climate Change and its projects IUCN team joined via zoom.
Malik Amin Aslam, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change graced the occasion as chief guest, thanked IUCN Pakistan and the Italian Government for this initiative on protected areas. He said under the TBTTP all provinces are mandated to get certified one Protected Area in IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. He further said that we are proceeding with a rapid pace towards expansion of the Protected Areas in Pakistan. The project instituting the first national parks services of Pakistan is under way. He said that for enlistment in the IUCN Green Listing, we need to learn from IUCN. He further said that we can take this initiative by listing one Protected Area from each province and other Units for green listing. He expressed the desire that all the Protected Areas from Pakistan to be on the IUCN Green Listing for maintaining a high standard of these designated areas. He also expected very useful feedback from the participation after a good learning session.
Mahmood Akhtar Cheema, Country Representative IUCN Pakistan welcomed the participants to the Orientation Session on the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. He said that Pakistan is blessed with abundance of natural resources from mountains to coast. It is a window for a larger number of Protected Areas that are in hundreds for the effective management, conservation and protection. Pakistan also has one Marine Protected Area which was recently notified. The interest of the Ministry of Climate Change and other departments and communities in the protected areas is very high towards their effective management. In Gilgit Baltistan the local communities have benefited and about 50% of communities are located in the hunting areas. He informed that Rs.30 million have been collected as Park entry fee in Gilgit Baltistan and around 80% of the proceeds go to the local communities in Gilgit Baltistan. He said that Pakistan has good examples of National Parks and Game Reserves that have been managed by communities. There are several areas that have been global and regional recognized. There are a number of national parks and community-controlled areas, one is the Khunjerab National Park which is going to be presented as a potential candidate for IUCN Green List for GB. Many key species are found in Khunjerab National Park. We have equally important sites in other parts of Pakistan like Kirthar, and Hingol National Parks. He also thanked the IUCN Green List experts from Asia Regional Office naming Dr. Scott Perkin and Mr. Khalid Pasha Green Listing experts who are engaged in the process of Green Listing in Pakistan.
Hassan Ali Sukhera, National Project Director, Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme (TBTTP) presented an overview of the Protected Areas Initiative launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He said that before July 2018 there were 350 protected areas in the country which is 13.29% of the land area in Pakistan and after July 2018 – 44 new protected areas have been notified which is 2.51 percent of the land area, increasing the total area under the protected areas in Pakistan to 15.80 percent of the total land area. To have a model approach for the development of protected areas, the Ministry of Climate Change has started a project titled: Sustainable Management of Protected Areas under the Prime Ministers Protected Areas initiative for which Rs.3, 895.00 million have been allocated that would be spent through provincial Forest and Wildlife Departments. One of the objectives the project is to get the protected areas certified by IUCN Green list of Protected and Conserved Areas.
Dr. Zakir Hussain, Chief Conservator Forest, Parks & Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan made a presentation on the Khujerab National Park. He shared facts and figures pertaining to the Park as a well-deserved potential for IUCN Green List due to its exemplary management, fair governance and a long-term commitment for a successful conservation.
Dr. Saeed Abbas, Biodiversity Expert of IUCN and Mr. Muhammad Shifa, Director, Khunjarab Villagers Organization (KVO) jointly presented the Social aspect and role of local communities in protected areas management of Khunjerab National Park and their impressive work over the years.
While introducing the IUCN Green List, Dr. Scott Perkin, Head, Science and Strategy Group (SSG), Asia congratulated Pakistan on its impressive conservation agenda and Prime Minister’s initiative on Protected Areas Initiative, Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme and other programmes. He was pleased to observe that Green List has been identified as one of the objectives to be achieved under the Prime Minsters initiatives. It is a new sustainability standard, which recognizes a fair and effective management of protected and conserved areas. It is similar to other standards that are based on clear and robust criteria as well as third party assurance. The Green List draw upon IUCN 70 years plus of conservation experience. It can be used to certify individual sites, but the criteria and indicators that underpin the standard can also provide a boarder framework for guiding the entire protected areas systems. He believed that Green list can help in filling the management gaps and would bring global recognition. Having the evidence-based approach it can also prove to be a powerful tool for generating donor funding for the management of these protected areas.
Khalid Pasha, Asia Coordinator IUCN Green List, Science & Strategy Group, IUCN Asia Regional Office presented an overview of the IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas. He explained that IUCN Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas is the first global standard of best practice for area-based conservation. It is a programme of certification for protected and conserved areas – national parks, natural World Heritage sites, community conserved areas, nature reserves and so on – that are effectively managed and fairly governed. He informed that among Asian Countries 10 Protected Areas have ben Green Listed. The countries include: Bhutan, China, Laos, Malaysia, Republic of Korea and Vietnam. In addition to these, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Timor Leste have shown interest to start implementing it.
Sharif, Balochistan Forest Department shared the name of Balochistan Hingol National Park for Green List. He said that there is well established community in this park. He recommended the case of Hingol National Park as a potential candidate for the IUCN Green List. Dr. Mohsin Farooq Chief Conservator Wildlife KP identified Ayubia National Park to be the candidate for IUCN Green List.
Ms. Fauzia Malik, Project Manager IUCN Islamabad informed that IUCN has initiated this process in Pakistan with the generous support of the Italian Government for Gilgit-Baltistan. She hoped that the provincial officials will benefit from the orientation and share their potential candidate Protected Area to be the first-ever in the country to be certified under IUCN Green List.