Improvement of Central Karakoram National Park Management System as Model for Mountain Ecosystems in Northern Pakistan
Three major mountain ranges, Karakorum, Himalaya and Hindukush that come together in northern Pakistan – are rich in biodiversity, and are a lifeline for not only people living in mountainous areas, but millions of others who live downstream through majestic glacial bodies that are an important source of fresh water, therefore deserve to be protected from existing and potential threats, both human-induced and natural. Effective approach in protecting and preserving ecosystems is through a network of protected areas.
Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP) has been the focus of the Pakistan-Italy Debt for Development Swap Agreement (PIDSA) - Socio-Economic and Environmental Development (SEED) Programme, implemented by the Italian Association Ev-K2-CNR and Karakoram International University (KIU). After five years of research and field investigations, a management plan was developed, which was converted into an operational plan. Subsequently, both documents received official approval from the Gilgit Baltistan (GB) Government in 2015. However, there is a further need to consolidate the operations of the CKNP, incorporating strategies to cope with emerging challenges such as growing pressures on natural resources by local communities and increasing climate variability. Findings and experiences from CKNP would be used as a model for other protected areas in Pakistan and elsewhere, particularly the Deosai National Park (DNP) with varying geo-physical properties, natural resources and pressures.
Through the proposed project, the main aim is to promote the governance of mountain ecosystems in northern Pakistan by improving ecological services, conserving nature, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, and developing an effective response to climate change. Specifically, the project will focus on consolidating CKNP's management system, extending it to Deosai National Park (DNP), delineating a corridor that connects the two sites, and adding priority sites adjacent to DNP that are ecologically important but have not been officially recognized or made part of management planning. All of this will further necessitate the strengthening of capacity in both custodian government departments and local communities, to be part of solutions to emerging challenges and implement effective strategies to cope with climate change.
The project shall make links to improved livelihood options and opportunities for local communities for reducing pressures on natural resources, and avoiding unsustainable uses and waste.
In addition, the project shall provide online platforms for sharing lessons, knowledge and experience among Protected Area managers both within and outside Pakistan. Specific expected results, include:
- Governance: Management of Central Karakorum National Park, Deosai National Park and connectivity corridor between CKNP and DNP is improved, which includes enhancing functional capacities of relevant CKNP, DNP, Government departments and Project staff in the target area to undertake the desired activities related to park management.
- Knowledge: A mechanism to share knowledge, lessons, experience, and best practices in protected area management domestically and internationally has been established.
- Livelihoods: Sustainable livelihood options for local communities in the project area created, and their capacity for benefiting from these options is enhanced, with a view of mitigating the impacts of climate change on local communities in mountainous ecosystems.