Prime Minister Imran Khan inaugurated two new high-altitude National Parks in Gilgit-Baltistan, ‘Himalaya National Park’ and ‘Nanga Parbat National Park’.
The Prime Minister announced the two National Parks under the ‘Protected Areas Initiative’. High-Altitude National Parks will protect Pakistan’s natural assets.
The newly notified 'Himalaya National Park' & 'Nanga Parbat National Park', span a huge area of 3600 sq. km which totals 5% of Gilgit-Baltistan's land area, and comprise unique ecological areas …
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) December 2, 2020
According to the statement issued by the prime minister office, the newly notified ‘Himalaya National Park’ & ‘Nanga Parbat National Park’, span a huge area of 3600 sq. km which totals 5% of Gilgit-Baltistan’s land area, and 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, Markhors & Blue Sheep.
These two National Parks have been announced under the Prime Minister’s ‘Protected Areas Initiative’ which is aiming to ensure the protection and preservation of Pakistan’s natural assets through designation and management as National Parks.
The number of National Parks in the country numbered 30 in 2018, which were announced over 70 years and remained just paper parks. Now under this initiative, in just 8 months, the number of National Parks across all provinces is being taken to 45 – a 50 % increase and proper community-based management regimes will be put in place in all of them. In this regards, 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 Prime Minister said that the Park Service Nighabaans “will be trained and employed to manage the parks in Gilgit-Baltistan as areas for biodiversity protection, safe habitats for wildlife preservation as well as for the promotion of nature-based eco-tourism.”
With the announcement of these two National Parks a globally unique ‘Nature Corridor’ has also been formed which traverses a high altitude area (over 10000 feet height) and connects the provinces of KP and AJK through Gilgit-Baltistan.
This will provide a protected and managed corridor for preserving the wildlife of the area – including the iconic snow leopard and Pakistans national animal Markhor which are present in this area.
Special Assistant of Prime Minister Malik Amin Aslam who was accompanying and briefed the Prime Minister said that “this high altitude ‘nature corridor’ is an initiative of high global significance.”
The Prime Minister also got a briefing 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.
Three female Ladakh Urial were already present in the area which is now being fenced and a male species is being translocated from Bonji in Gilgit-Baltistan.
This will be the first experiment of its kind globally to save the Ladakh Urial which is endemic to only Pakistan and India and remains highly endangered.
The PM also stated that the Government will have ‘zero tolerance’ towards timber mafia & praised the work of the GB forests department under the ’10 Billion Tree Tsunami’ project. He approved the deployment of FC platoons especially for the forest protection drive in Gilgit-Baltistan.