Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam

ISLAMABAD, Dec 06 (APP):Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam said the two new national parks for Gilgit Baltistan, announced by Prime Minister Imran Khan, would help promote eco-tourism in the region.

In a statement issued here, he said the Himalaya National Park and the Nanga Parbat Park, announced under the prime minister’s ‘Protected Areas Initiative’, would span over 3,600 square kilometers, five per cent of the GB’s total area.

Comprising unique ecological areas with very high altitude biodiversity as well as precious flora and fauna of snow leopards, Himalyan brown bear, Ladakh urial, Ibex, Marco Polo sheep and blue sheep, the two parks would play a crucial role in promoting eco-tourism in the country, he added.

The SAPM said the Protected Areas Initiative was aimed at ensuring the protection and preservation of the country’s natural assets through designation and management as national parks.

He said some 30 national parks had been announced only in papers during the last 70 years till 2018, but nothing practical was done on the ground. But now under the Protected Areas Initiative, the number of parks across all provinces was being increased by 45-50% in just eight months, with proper community-based management regimes put in place, he added.

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The SAPM said the prime minister also approved the formation of GB’s first National Park Service, which would provide 5,000 green jobs to the youth in the province.
The Park Service nighabaan (guards) would be trained to properly mange the parks as areas for biodiversity protection, safe habitats for wildlife preservation as well as for promotion of nature based eco-tourism, he added.

He said with the announcement of two national parks a globally unique ‘Nature Corridor’, traversing a high altitude area (over 10000 feet height) and connecting the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Azad Jammu & Kashmir through GB, had also been formed which . “This will provide a protected and managed corridor for preserving the wildlife of the area – including the iconic snow leopard and Pakistan national animal Marco Polo which are present in this area” he added.

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Malik Amin Aslam, who accompanied the prime minister earlier in the day to Giglit for oath taking of the GB cabinet, said the high altitude “Nature Corridor” was an initiative of high global significance.”

He said during his visit to Gilgit, the PM also got a briefing on the associated initiative to save the endangered Ladakh Urial, for which a breeding enclosure was being established in Skardu in the natural habitat of the dwindling species in order to enhance its numbers.
“Three female Ladakh Urial are already present in the area, which is now being fenced and a male species is being translocated from Bonji in GB,” he added.

It would the first experiment of its kind globally to save the Ladakh Urial, which was endemic to only Pakistan and India, and remained highly endangered, the SAPM remarked.
“The PM also stated that his government will have “zero tolerance” towards timber mafia and praised the work of the GB Forests Department under the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project,” he said.