ABBOTTABAD: Residents of Galiyat have decided to move court against what they said illegal lease of forests of Ayubia National Park and Gallies Biosphere Reserve.

On Saturday, they issued legal notices to chief conservator forest and others over ‘illegal’ signing of a Memorandum of understanding with Galiyat Development Authority.

The residents issued notices to the secretary climate change, forestry, environment and wildlife department, director general Galiyat Development Authority and chief conservator northern forest, Hazara region, Abbottabad though senior counsel Zafar Iqbal Advocate.

The MoU, which grants permission for installation of a chairlift and carrying out other commercial endeavours in the protected areas, has raised concerns among the local community and conservationists.

The residents and conservationists argued that the MoU was signed by unauthorised officials, casting doubts on the legality of the lease. Furthermore, they highlighted procedural lapses, emphasising the need for transparent and accountable decision-making processes in matters related to protected areas.

Ayubia National Park and Gallies Biosphere Reserve are crucial ecological treasures that support a diverse range of flora and fauna. These protected areas not only contribute to biodiversity conservation but also provide recreational and educational opportunities for visitors. Preserving these natural habitats is essential for the long-term sustainability of the region’s ecosystems.

By challenging the ‘illegal’ lease, the residents and conservationists aim to protect the integrity of Ayubia National Park and Gallies Biosphere Reserve.

They stress the importance of adherence to established legal procedures and the involvement of authorised officials in decision-making processes regarding protected areas.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2024

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