Under the ‘Green Stimulus’ initiative of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project, the Ministry of Climate Change (MoCC) is planning to launch seven national parks across the country for conserving over 650,042 hectares (ha) of forest areas.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam told APP that the project is aimed at preserving the depleting forest cover and dwindling wildlife habitats across the country and will cost around Rs. 2.4 billion.
He said the initiative will help create multiple jobs for the local communities associated with these national parks. The Billion Tree Afforestation Project implemented in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) alone generated 500,000 jobs including enclosure ‘nigehbans’ (guards), plant nursery workers, field staff, and workforce engaged in different field tasks.
The minister added that,
At present around 65,000 people were employed on daily wages under 10 Billion Tree Tsunami (10BTT) Project that have been directed to increase three times for achieving the 20 million trees this year target amid the pandemic of coronavirus. This indicates the quantum of sustainable and green employment opportunities to be created under the 10BTT project. It will also give ownership to the local masses of the protected area as its benefits will have a direct impact on their economic wellbeing.
To a question, he said that the prime minister will launch the project where these parks will be established in Punjab, KP, Sindh, Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) which will be fully funded by MoCC.
These six national parks, he said were sprawling over a total area of 650,042 ha that will be established as protected areas including:
- Kherimurat 8740 ha (1.34 percent)
- Sheikh Badin 15,540 ha (2.39 percent)
- Chiltan-Hazar Ganji 27,400 ha (4.22 percent)
- Takkar 43,513 ha (6.69 percent)
- Deva Vattala 449 ha (0.07 percent)
- Khunjrab 554,400 ha (85.29 percent).
Amin Aslam further added that Margalla Hills National Park is also a part of these six national parks and comprised of approximately 20,000 acres. The National Parks Service will begin its project through these seven national parks and then it will be extended to 31 national parks across the country, the Adviser said.
He mentioned that the initiative will help provide employment opportunities to youth and women whereas it will help promote eco-tourism, preserve natural wildlife habitats, and increase hiking spots for adventure tourism as well.