Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the establishment of 15 national parks in all federating units of the country while launching the 'Protective Area Initiative' in Islamabad on Thursday.
Out of these 15 National Parks, nine are new and recently declared NPs while six others were notified, but never protected. All will be made fully functional NPs with proper ecological management and governance, according to the Centre.
Under the initiative, the coverage of the protected area in the country will be enhanced to 15 per cent of the country’s land area from the current 13 per cent. The project, part of the 'Green Stimulus' vision, is to cover a land area of over 7,300 sq km, spanning to the mountains in the north to the scrub forests in the plains and a marine protected area in the south of the country.
In the initial phase, almost 5,000 direct nature jobs will be generated for the youth, claims the government.
The premier pointed out that global warming and climate change pose serious threats to Pakistan. Guidelines will be issued to provinces for the preservation of these parks. This a major initiative which will benefit future generations, said PM Imran.
He expressed satisfaction at the participation of all provinces in this project, which he claimed will also offer job opportunities for the youth.
Protecting green areas and parks will add to Pakistan's efforts of addressing the threat of climate change, according to the PM. He referred to the 10 billion trees plantation programme launched by his government as another initiative as part of the efforts thus far.
He asked the provinces to take the threat of climate change seriously and take the required steps for the protection of green areas.
Pakistan has a diverse landscape with 12 ecological climatic zones, said PM Imran, while regretting that nothing has been done in the past 70 years to protect forest cover in the country.
He also lamented the hunting of ibex, snow leapords and other endangered species, which need to be protected with the support of local people.
Highlighting the potential of eco-tourism in the country, PM Imran said that areas are being opened for tourism. However, he asked the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to frame bylaws before opening tourist spots.
Besides, he urged on master planning for cities while pointing at the lack of town planning in the country. Protection of green areas needs to be a basic component of town planning, he added. "Our cities are growing, but we are failing to provide sewerage, electricity, gas, waste disposal etc. We need master plans and town planning."
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