Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Khunjerab National Park, World Heritage Convention, Ramsar Convention, industrial pollution, forest fires
The wetlands in Pakistan are a precious resource. In an arid to semiarid environment, these ecosystems have tremendous value. People, domestic livestock, and wildlife depend on them for livelihood and survival. The wetlands are also a major source of food staples, livestock grazing and fodder, fuel wood, and irrigation water. However, the fragile wetland ecologies are threatened by poor conservation, over-exploitation, and urban and industrial pollution.
Pakistanís forests also are in urgent need of protection and conservation. The country has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world. The primary causes of deforestation are population growth and settlement, lack of fuelwood alternatives, insect damage and diseases, forest fires, and lack of awareness about the importance of preservation.
In the 1970s the government of Pakistan began making efforts to protect the countryís forests. It has created 14 national parks, covering a total area of 2,753,375 hectares (6,803,738 acres). The protected forests of the parks help prevent soil erosion. The parks are also wildlife sanctuaries and game reserves. Khunjerab National Park, established in 1975, is an important habitat sanctuary for a number of threatened or endangered species, including the snow leopard. It is one of the countryís most important alpine biodiversity regions. Located in the Himalayas, it is also one of the highest-altitude parks in the world at 5,000 m (16,000 ft). Most of the parks generally have no ecological basis, however, existing primarily as tourist attractions or for the preservation of game animals.
Pakistan participates in the World Heritage Convention and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and it has one designated biosphere preserve under the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Man and the Biosphere Program.
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