ISLAMABAD, July02 :Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that 15 national parks covering a land area of 7,300 sq km have been made fully functional for the first time with proper ecological management and governance.
He said that nine are new and recently declared national parks while six others earlier had the status of ‘paper parks’ with mere notifications. He said, protection of green areas along with promotion of eco-tourism was vital for the country development.
Speaking at the launching ceremony of ‘Protected Area Initiative’ the prime minister said Pakistan facing severe challenges of climate change due to glacier-melting, the protection of its natural and ecological environment was need of the hour.
The protected green area coverage will be enhanced from current 13 to 15 percent of the country’s land area spanning mountains in the north to the scrub forests in plains and a marine-protected area in south of the country.
Imran Khan said Pakistan was blessed with 12 diverse ecological zones, making it a rich destination for eco-tourism. He said the country required a further improvement in learning about administration and preservation of national parks.
Imran Khan directed the Chief Minister Khyber Pukhtunkhwa not to open tourist areas for public unless putting in place byelaws regarding protection and preservation of natural environment.
He pointed out that Galiyat and Murree were facing problems due to lack of civic planning and policy on eco-tourism. He said cities were facing problems of water shortage and waste disposal facilities due to absence or outdated master plans.
Imran Khan mentioned that biodiversity of Margalla hills was splendid with its unique flora and fauna, saying that turning it into a national park would help its preservation.
The prime minister stressed involvement of local community in preservation of natural environment and rare species including snow leopard and Marco polo sheep.
Prime minister lauded his Adviser on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam for the ‘Protected Area Initiative’ and urged upon the chief ministers of Punjab and KPK to take the subject on priority.