Efforts on to set up first Asian Leopard reserve in Margalla Hills: PM’s aide

Published August 29, 2021
The Margalla Hills National Park had now become a permanent new habitat of the wild cats that previously would move to the park area and roam around its lower reaches during winter, the PM's aide said. — Reuters/File
The Margalla Hills National Park had now become a permanent new habitat of the wild cats that previously would move to the park area and roam around its lower reaches during winter, the PM's aide said. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam on Saturday said preparations were underway to establish the country’s first-ever Asian Leopard reserve in the Margalla Hills National Park.

Spanning over 17,386 hectares and ranked as the third largest in the world, the scenic national park is home to rich biodiversity comprising around 600 plant species, 402 bird varieties, 38 mammals and 27 species of reptiles.

Speaking to the participants at a monsoon tree plantation event held here at a picturesque Pak Farid Park, the PM’s aide said the Margalla Hills National Park was a protected area and had now become a permanent new habitat of the wild cats that previously would move to the park area and roam around its lower reaches during winter and retire to a higher altitude during summer.

“Efforts are being made for a viable action plan for controlled, well-monitored and safe mobility into the Leopard Reserve inside the park area through information guides and staff to stave off any human-wildlife encounter,” Amin Aslam explained.

Says national park a protected area, has become new habitat of wild cats

Earlier, Mr Aslam also inaugurated the tree plantation event by planting a sapling of pine tree at the Pak Farid Park in the presence ofItalian Ambassador Andreas Ferraris, Pak Steel officials and members of civil society organisations as well as the general public.

During the event, around 300 saplings were planted by participants during the day-long activity.

Amin Aslam lauded the Pak Farid Park administrationfor its role in promoting afforestation activities, saying the corporate entity was the only public-private partnership initiative being implemented to fight environmental degradation through public participation.

It was the only park that remained open and accessible to the public for recreational activities, jogging and physical exercises throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, he added.

Malik Amin said the private sector was a key stakeholder of the government, as it had corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds and capacity to timely implement projects with positive outcomes.

He also spoke on the climate risks as pointed out in the recently-launched UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report 2021, saying that around 14,000 scientists worked on that report and warned of the rapidly unfolding climate change-induced disasters if forests were not protected and brought new areas under trees.

“Today, the world has recognised in the scientific findings that forests are the greatest, cheapest and the most effective way to fight deleterious fallouts of social, economic, environmental and health impacts,” Malik Amin Aslam maintained.

“However, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s world-acclaimed Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme has been launched as a viable and affordable way forward for Pakistan as the most effective mechanism to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, water, energy, health and education,” he elaborated.

During his speech at the event, Italian Ambassador Andreas Ferraris also appreciated Mr Aslam for successfully executing the prime minister’s remarkable Clean Green Pakistan and Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programmes.

“I am a staunch supporter of public-private affinity for achieving environmental sustainability and friendly relationship between Italy and Pakistan,” the Italian envoy said, adding that, “he is also working to boost collaboration between public and private sectors of both countries, where the latter’s response has been very encouraging and inspiring.

Representatives from the steel industry of Islamabadalso spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2021

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