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National parks in Pakistan have apparently been established primarily for wildlife and not necessarily for their historic or scenic features.
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Introduction to Pakistan Wildlife Biodiversity of Pakistan Ecological Zones of Pakistan

Section 5: Protected Areas Systems

Land areas set aside specifically for protecting wildlife is not a new concept in Pakistan. The early rulers or Mirs often declared certain areas as preserves especially for this purpose so they would have a sufficient supply of game animals for hunting.

The first forest reserves set up under the British period in the mid 1800's, more often than not circumscribed the same areas previously set aside by the Mirs. Under the British forest system, habitat was protected and to some degree wildlife itself.

Outside the Indus basin, wildlife has maintained itself due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the terrain, especially in the northern mountainous, tribal areas. Local chieftains with a passion for hunting often recognised the value of putting certain areas off limits to hunting to allow animal populations to build up.

Thus, coming into the present century there were a number of areas scattered around the country that served to protect wildlife. Except for the reserved or protected forests, few received more than a minimum amount of management and many were unknown.

The passage of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance in 1959 and issuance of the Wildlife Protection Rules in 1960 authorized the establishment of sanctuaries and reserves for game. Wildlife was formally recognised as an important natural heritage.

Following the 1966 and 1967 World Wide Fund for Nature expeditions in Pakistan to assess the state of the environment, recommendations were made to the Government of Pakistan for the establishment of parks and reserves. The Wildlife Inquiry Committee, appointed in 1968, had additional functions, which included the selection of suitable areas to be set aside as national parks or reserves and making recommendations concerning legislative, administrative and other measures to set up and maintain them. It was well-recognised that in order to conserve wildlife, Pakistan needed an extensive network of well-maintained reserves and that this network should include samples of all the various habitats and their associated fauna, including predators such as wolves and leopards. The Wildlife Inquiry Committee completed its work in October 1970 and recommended the establishment of 46 wildlife sanctuaries . These would be devoted to preservation of flora and fauna in its natural state and entrance and other activities would be controlled by permit. Forestry practices were prohibited, as were the collection of grass, firewood, building materials. Five Game Reserves were established and hunting was to be controlled by a special permit system.

Summary of Protected Areas in Pakistan (based on NCCW data)

Region/ Province National Parks Wildlife Sanctuaries Game Reserves Un Classified Total PAs Total Area Conserved (ha) % of Total Land Area Protected
Azad Jammu Kashmir 1 0 8 0 9 51,998 3.91
Balochistan 2 15 7 7 31 1,837,704 5.29
Punjab 2 37 19 0 58 3,315,803 16.14
NWFP 3 6 38 5 52 470,675 6.30
Sindh 1 35 14 4 54 1,307,575 9.27
Federal Territory 1 1 1 0 3 94,186 100
Northern Areas 4 5* 9 0 18 2,092,180 2.97
Totals 14 99 96 16 225 9,170,121 10.40

a. One of the Wildlife Sanctuary in Balochistan has been redesignated as Game Reserve in 1998.
b. Two of the Wildlife Sancturies in Northern Areas have been redesignated as Controlled Hunting Areas in October 1998

The first national park, Lal Suhanra, was formally declared in the Bahawalpur district of Punjab in 1972. The park consists of irrigated forest plantations (20,974 acres), desert branch pond (4780 acres) and Cholistan Desert (51726 acres) for a total of 77480 acres. The park was established to protect existing wildlife and vegetation; reintroduce extirpated species; rehabilitate wildlife habitat; create education/research facilities for local and foreign tourists, and recreational facilities for the local population.

Kirthar National Park achieved its protected status in 1973. Established in the Dadu district of Sindh, this 466,000 acre reserve provides protection for a fine herd of ibex about 60 miles north of Karachi. Other large game species such as Indian gazelle and urial sheep have increased their populations within the park. A management plan has been drawn up for the park with the assistance of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). However, fiscal restraints and other priorities have largely precluded full implementation of the plan.

Khunjerab in northern Hunza, Gilgit Agency, became the third national park in 1975. This area has been successful in providing protection for the Marco Polo's sheep, blue sheep, snow leopard, snowcock, snow partridge and other high mountain species.

National parks in Pakistan have apparently been established primarily for wildlife and not necessarily for their historic or scenic features. Their administration is handled by the provincial wildlife departments.

So far, 15 national parks have been declared as follows:

NAME OF THE NATIONAL PARK AREA (ha) Year of declaration
Ayubia 1,684 1984
Chinji 6,095 1987
Chitral Gol 7,750 1974
Hazarganji-Chiltan 15,555 1980
Hingol 165,004 1997
Khunjerab 226,913 1975
Kirthar 308,733 1974
Lal Sohanra 37,426 1972
Margalla Hills 17,426 1980
Central Karakorum 13,90,100 1995
Kandrap Shandur 51,200 1993
Deosai Plains 3,58,400 1993
Sheikh Buddin 15,554 1993
Machiara 13,532 1980
Total 37,67,518 Ha
(Source: WWF-Pakistan and MELGRD)

The classification system follows the IUCN Protected Area Classification (I-VI) as given below:


I. Strict Nature Reserve/Wilderness Area: Areas of land and/or sea possessing outstanding or representative ecosystems, geological physiological features and/or species, available primarily for scientific research and/or environmental monitoring; or large areas of unmodified or slightly modified land, and/or sea, retaining their natural character and influence, without permanent or significant habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition.

II. National Park: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Ecosystem Conservation and Recreation. Natural areas of land and/or sea, designated to (a) protect the ecological integrity of one or more ecosystems for this and future generations, (b) exclude exploitation or occupation inimical to the purposes of designation of the area and (c) provide a foundation for spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities, all of which must be environmentally and culturally compatible.

III. Natural Monument: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Conservation of Special Features. Areas containing one or more specific natural or natural/ cultural features which is of outstanding or unique value because of its inherent rarity, representative or aesthetic qualities or cultural significance.

IV. Habitat/Species Management Area: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Conservation through Management Intervention. Areas of land and/ or sea subject to active intervention for management purposes to ensure the maintenance of habitats and/ or to meet the requirements of specific species.

V. Protected Landscape / Seascape: Protected Areas Managed Mainly for Landscape/ Seascape conservation and recreation. Areas of land, with coast and sea as appropriate, where the impaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant aesthetic, cultural and/ or ecological value, and often with high biological diversity. Safeguarding the integrity of this traditional interaction is vital to the protection, maintenance and evolution of such an area.

VI. Managed Resource Protected Area Protected Areas Managed Mainly for the Sustainable Use of Natural Ecosystems. Areas containing predominantly unmodified natural systems managed to ensure long-term protection and maintenance of biological diversity, while providing at the same time a sustainable flow of natural products and services to meet communituy needs.

Source: IUCN, 1994. Guidelines for Protected Area Management Categories

In addition to the above mentioned 14 national parks, the provincial governments have listed 99 wildlife sanctuaries (Punjab - 19, Sindh - 35, Northwest Frontier - 6, Balochistan - 15, Northern Areas - 5).

In addition, 96 other areas have been designated as game reserves and these govern an additional 4407 square miles of terrain, (Punjab - 19 areas, Sindh - 14 areas, Northwest Frontier - 38 areas, Balochistan - 7 areas, Northern Areas - 9 sites and AJK - 8 sites).

Most of the areas were created to provide habitat protection for animal species commonly referred to as game (huntable species for sport or meat). Providing protection for these species also offered a measure of security for many lesser known plant species and smaller animal species. Thus, the Government of Pakistan has created a parks and reserves system governing about 9.1 million ha (10.40% of total land area). Although extensive, only a fraction of the network is protected. Game reserves, in particular, which are often in private land, receive minimal protection due to the lack of legal provisions to control land use. Wildlife sanctuaries enjoy better protection, but in practice, legal restrictions are seldom enforced other than to prevent hunting. Most sanctuaries have been designated in reserve forests of commercial value where timber and minor forest products are harvested. Enforcement is better in the national parks. Protected areas have been created haphazardly, often in the absence of any criteria for their selection, and the boundaries drawn with little or no ecological basis. The protected areas system is under review to incorporate a new category of protected areas viz. biodiversity conservation.


References and Credits:

  • First National Report on the Implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity, LEAD Pakistan, Ministry of Environment and Local Government Pakistan and UNEP.

  • COUNTRY REPORT BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION IN PAKISTAN, Ejaz Ahmad Conservation Director, World Wide Fund For Nature - Pakistan.

  • Biodiversity Action Plan, Pakistan, Government of Pakistan, August 1999
  • BIODIVERSTIY CONSERVATION IN PAKISTAN : AN OVERVIEW, Muhammad Ajmal Director (Industries & Ozone) Ministry of Environment, Urban Affairs, Forestry and Wildlife C/O Pakistan National, Commission for UNESCO.

  • Ali, S.I. 1978. The Flora of Pakistan: some general analytical remarks. Notes, Royal Botanical Garden, Edinburgh, 36:427-439.

  • EUAD & IUCN. 1992. The Pakistan National Conservation Strategy. EUAD & IUCN, Pakistan.

  • Groombridge, B. 1988. Balochistan Province, Pakistan: a Preliminary Environmental Profile. IUCN & WCMC, Cambridge, UK.

  • IUCN. 1990. IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

  • Khalid, Z.M. 1996. Biotechnological Solution to Coloured Effluent from Textile Industry. Natura, 22(2) : 6-7.

  • NCCW, 1978. Wildlife Conservation Strategy: Pakistan. National Council for Conservation of Wildlife, Islamabad, Pakistan. Unpublished Report, 73 pp.

  • Reid, W.V. 1992. "How Many Species Will There Be?" In: T. Whitemore and J. Sayer, (eds.), Tropical deforestation and species extinction. Chapman and Hall, London.

  • Roberts, T. J. 1977. The Mammals of Pakistan. Ernest Benn, London, UK. 361 pp.

  • Roberts, T. J. 1986. Critical Ecosystems in Pakistan. Report to World Resources Institute, Washington, D.C. Unpublished 10 pp.

  • Roberts, T. J. 1991. The Birds of Pakistan. Vol. 1. Oxford University Press, UK.

  • Sadeque, N. 1986. Plants. In: M. Carwardine (ed.), The Nature of Pakistan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland.

  • Stewart, R.R. 1982. An Annotated Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of West Pakistan and Kashmir. Pakistan Agriculture Research Council, Islamabad, 1028 pp.

  • WCMC. 1991. Biodiversity Guide to Pakistan. IUCN & WCMC, Cambridge, UK.

  • Biodiversity Table: NCOS Sector Paper on Natural Capital by abdul Latif Rao & Abeedullah Jan.



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