PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wildlife department will spend Rs649 million on the conservation of biodiversity and promotion of eco-tourism through livelihood improvement at the Sheikh Badin National Park in Dera Ismail Khan district.

The Sheikh Badin mountain range, which was given the status of the national park in 2003, is a sub-project of the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Programme (BTAP).

According to the official documents, Rs565.957 million of the total allocated funds will be utilised on conservancy and other works in the park.

The officials said PC-I of the project had been approved and the wildlife department, the executing body, was set to launch the scheme soon.

Three years initiative to be executed in DI Khan national park

This is the first major intervention under the 10 BTAP to ensure conservation of biodiversity in the province.

10 BTAP is a joint initiative of the federal and provincial governments with an aim to revive forest and wildlife resources in the country, improve the overall conservation of the existing protected areas, and encourage eco-tourism, community engagement and job creation through conservation activities. The estimated cost of the programme (2019-2023) is Rs125.1843 billion.

The Sheikh Badin National Park is spread over 15,540 hectares at the junction of Dera Ismail Khan and Lakki Marwat districts.

The park having sub-tropical pine forest and sub-tropical scrub forest serves as habitat for different wild species, including black partridges, grey partridges, chakor partridges, blue rock pigeons, foxes, hares, jackals, jungle cats, wild boars and wolves.

Flora and fauna apart, the Sheikh Badin National Park has historical significance. It has the British-era Old Dak Bungalow, shrine of Sufi saint Pir Sheikh Bahauddin, a 200-year-old mosque, gallows/well, and Circular Road built in the colonial period.

The British government had used the hill station as its summer headquarters housing all important offices, including police station, district magistrate, treasury, commissioners and a small hospice. The entire infrastructure was developed in 1860.

Under the plan, the Dak Bungalow, after the completion of restoration and conservation work, will be used as cultural, historical and natural history museum of the Sheikh Badin National Park.

Currently, the Old Dak Bungalow and other historical sites are in dilapidated condition. According to official documents, Rs21.518 million has been allocated for the preservation of the old bungalow.

“Sheikh Badin will be developed as a model national park,” an official of the wildlife department said, adding that the park would be a source of promoting eco-tourism centre in the southern region of the province.

He said KP had a total of six national parks and two of them were located in Chitral district. The official said the project also carried incentives for the local communities that included the provision of various natural resource and livelihood improvement trainings.

He said major components of the project are the conservation of flora and fauna through the participation of local communities and development of the park as a destination of eco-tourism.

The official said tourist lodges would be constructed over 6,000 squares feet area.

He said major objectives of the three years project were the promotion of eco-tourism, protection of indigenous fauna and flora along with habitat of the national park, improvement of socio-economic conditions of the local communities, and creation awareness of the

importance of the national parks and wildlife conservation among the local population.

The official said for the promotion of eco-tourism, the establishment of camping sites within the park, tourist lodges, park cafeteria, maintenance of the existing access road, and restoration of historical tracks and trails were major components of the project.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2021

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