Pakistan Snow leopard and Ecosystem Program Endorsed in Validation Workshop

Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan (SLF) conducted a Validation workshop for Pakistan Snow leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program on July 13, 2017 in Islamabad. The relevant stakeholders of the project including Ministries of Climate Change; Planning, Development and Reforms; and Science and Technology; Pakistan Museum of Natural History; Forest and Wildlife Departments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit Baltistan and AJK, UNDP; academia and NGOs participated in the workshop. Inspector General (Forests) Syed Mahmood Nasir welcomed the participants of the workshop. He appreciated the hard work done by Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan and staff of Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) in conservation of snow leopard and in developing a vibrant project proposal for GEF funding. He further stated that while designing programs we should also keep in mind the traditional lifestyle and cultural traditions of local communities and declared rights of indigenous people. IGF congratulated Dr. Ali Nawaz, Mr. Ashiq Ahmad Khan and Mr. Shafqat Hussain on receiving international awards for their efforts of biodiversity conservation. UNDP-Pakistan representative, Usman Manzoor assured to provide support in this project. He further said that due to certain pressures the population of snow leopard is declining and there is need to sustain its population through comprehensive measures at landscape level. Dr. Ali Nawaz, Director, Snow Leopard Foundation gave a presentation on project background and objectives. He presented key challenges, SLF’s multi-pronged approach, conservation models, tools to accomplish conservation research, need, background and introduction to GSLEP, Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program and its preparatory and follow up meetings, introduction and resources mobilized for National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (NSLEP). It was informed that Pakistan Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection project is being developed to implement NSLEP from GEF 6 allocation to Pakistan. Dr. Ali further informed that consultations were held to prepare concept note of Pakistan Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (PSLEP). For taking stakeholders’ inputs for preparing the project document, consultations were held with Chief Secretary and relevant stakeholders including Forest, Wildlife and Environmental Protection departments, academia and relevant NGOs in Gilgit Baltistan, Community based organizations in Gilgit Baltistan, Wildlife Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Forest and Wildlife Departments and relevant NGOs of AJK. Malcolm Jensen gave the presentation on the project outcomes, outputs, activities, organogram and co-financing requirements. He elaborated project objectives, duration, implementing agencies, implementing partners; key barriers that the project intends to address; proposed alternate project strategy; criteria for selecting valleys for project interventions in three landscapes. Presentations lead to lively discussions among participants on scope, components and implementation mechanism of the project. However, all participants endorsed the project, applauded efforts of SLF and assured full support for implementation of the project. Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, Federal Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan gave the concluding remarks and informed that he is looking forward to the project because snow leopard is an iconic specie found in Pakistan and the support and inputs of all stakeholders will be helpful in conservation of this specie. He offered full support from Ministry of Climate Change in this project and emphasized on establishing emergency rescue centers and resources for wildlife protection. Making the domestic tourism eco-friendly aspect may also be taken into consideration. He further stated that I look forward for earlier formation and implementation of this project.