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September 12, 2020

Number of ‘notified’ protected areas rises to 399

National

September 12, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The number of ‘notified’ protected areas in Pakistan has risen to 399 and their continuous expansion is likely to help achieve the target of increasing tree coverage area to 15 per cent by 2023.

According to the statistics provided by the climate change ministry, the notified protected areas include 31 national parks, 92 wildlife sanctuaries, 97 game reserves, 19 wetland reserves and 160 community reserves.

The protected coverage area is now 13 per cent out of total land and the government has set the target to enhance it up to 15 per cent till 2023. Under the Protected Areas Initiatives (PAI), some 7,300 square kilometres of land has further been included into the national parks, spanning the mountains in the north to the scrub forests and the plains in the centre and the virgin coastline in the south.

The Margalla Hills National Park is also among the protected areas and its protection and preservation is also part of the PAI that was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Interestingly, the protected areas are being made fully functional through community-led conservation funds with proper ecological management as well as effective governance plans.

The local community is benefiting from development activities related to establishment and expansion of protected areas as alternative sources of income are also being provided to those who are willing to work under the management plans. In the initial phase, almost 5,000 direct nature jobs have been generated for the youth.

The official record showed that the climate change ministry is also making plans to establish Marine Protected Areas for the first time in Pakistan in coordination with the provincial authorities.

According to Special Assistant of the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam, the initiative to tackle post-COVID-19 unemployment fits perfectly well with the ruling PTI’s vision of protecting nature and fighting climate change.