PESHAWAR, Dec 31: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has drafted the province’s first-ever rangelands policy to improve the productivity of the province's rangelands, rehabilitate the degraded ones, conserve biodiversity and contribute to the national efforts against climate change, global warming and desertification.

The policy drafted by Pakistan Forests Institute (PFI) and unveiled by provincial environment and forests minister Wajid Ali Khan during a one- day workshop here on Monday.

PFI had organised the event with the support of International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) where provincial environment secretary and PFI director general Syed Badshah Bokhari, ICIMOD country representative Abdul Wahid Jasra, senior officers of the forests and wildlife department and ex-foresters were in attendance.

The minister told participants that the need for the development of the rangelands policy was felt after the devolution of the federal ministry of environment in line with the 18th constitutional amendment.

He said the enforcement of the policy would help conserve and develop natural resources of the rangelands.

“This endeavour on part of PFI will enable the government to significantly contribute to the national efforts to comply with obligations under international environmental conventions and protocols, including United Nations Conventions on Biodiversity, Desertification Control, UNFCCC and others such treaties,” he said.

Mr Wajid said the overall objective of the rangelands policy was to improve the productivity of the province’s rangelands and pastures to contribute immensely to the rural economy and livelihood improvement for dependent communities besides maintaining ecological functions, conservation of biodiversity and mitigation of climate change.

He suggested the wide circulation and publicity of the draft policy for getting suggestions and recommendations of stakeholders to make it comprehensive and sustainable.

The minister said after completion of all formalities and vetting by the law department, the draft would be tabled before the provincial cabinet for approval.

Anwar Ali of PFI said after the approval of the proposed policy, the forests department would continue to perform as the custodian and managers of the province’s rangelands due to availability of better infrastructure and trained manpower.

“Three range management divisions will be created in the forest department to look after range management interventions in Malakand, Hazara and Peshawar regions,” he said.

The PFI official said a range development advisory body would be formed at provincial level with representatives from the departments of forests, wildlife, agriculture, livestock, PFI and private sector to provide policy guidance and coordination of integrated range management interventions and that the forest department would be responsible for coordinating the meetings of the said body.

“In addition to development of approach linkages with research organisations to utilise their technical knowledge for conservation and sustainable management of range land resources, the forest department will also establish linkages with extension units of departments of livestock and agriculture to plan joint approach and ensure provision of their services to the range communities,” he said.

Mr Anwar said for implementation of the policy, the requisite range management rules and regulations would be framed and approved. —APP

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