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Sunday 4th December 2022 / 10 Jamadilawal 1444

PM announces two new national parks in Gilgit Baltistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has announced  two new high altitude national parks in Gilgit Baltistan, spanning a huge area of 3600 square km which totals five percent of Gilgit-Baltistan’s land area.

The ‘Himalaya National Park’ and the ‘Nanga Parbat National Park’ comprise unique ecological areas with very rich high altitude biodiversity as well as precious flora and fauna which include snow leopards, Himalayan brown bear, Ladakh urial, ibex, markhor and blue sheep.

These two national parks have been announced under the PM’s ‘Protected Areas Initiative’ which aims to ensure the protection and preservation of Pakistan’s natural assets through designation and management as national parks.

There were thirty national parks in the country in 2018 which were announced over the past seven decades and just remained on paper only. Under the initiative, in just 8 months, the number of national parks across all provinces is being taken to 45.  This marks 50 percent increase whereas proper community-based management regimes will be put in place.

The prime minister also approved the formation of Gilgit Baltistan’s first “National Parks Service” which he said will provide 5000 green jobs to the youth in the province. The ‘Park Service Nighabaans’ will be trained and employed to manage the parks Gilgit as areas for biodiversity protection, safe habitats for wildlife preservation as well as for the promotion of nature-based eco-tourism.

Along with the announcement of these two national parks, a globally unique ‘Nature Corridor’ has also been formed which traverses a high altitude area (over 10,000 feet height) and connects the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Kashmir through GB.

This will provide a protected and managed corridor for preserving the wildlife of the area including the iconic snow leopard and Pakistan’s national animal markhor which are present in this area. Special Assistant to Prime Minister Malik Amin Aslam briefed the prime minister said that “this high altitude nature corridor is an initiative of high global significance.”

The prime minister was also briefed on the associated initiative to save the endangered Ladakh Urial for which a breeding enclosure is being established in Skardu in the natural habitat of this dwindling species in order to enhance its numbers.

The prime minister also stated that this government will have zero tolerance towards timber mafia and praised the work of the GB Forest Department under the “10 Billion Tree Tsunami” project. He approved the deployment of FC platoons for the forest protection drive in the region.

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