MONITORING REPORT LHR: To conserve indigenous species of flora and fauna that are about to become extinct, the Environment Protection Department (EPD) in collaboration with Cholistan Development Authority (CDA) is hoping to complete 85-acre Biodiversity Park in Cholistan, by the end of June.

According to experts, the Biodiversity Park will place Pakistan among the countries working to safeguard irreplaceable natural wealth and reduce biodiversity loss by protecting endangered species in Punjab. There is a great biological diversity available in Pakistan, however about half of the wild life species have become extinct and the park will work on preservation of the same heritage.

The concept of Biodiversity Park is new in Punjab or Pakistan as all parks that are found in the country fall in the category of recreational parks. Once the parks are developed on modern lines they will prove a new experience, especially for visiting public and research students of universities, EPD officials said, adding that maintenance of the park will be a big challenge to for the local authorities.

The park, stretched on 85-acre land, is located near Derawar Fort, Bahawalpur, in Cholistan Desert. It is going to be a true home for all species of butterflies, snakes which have been deprived of home places even in the desert.

Due to human activity or due to impact of climate change,” said EPD Deputy Director Muhammad Tahir.

Highlighting the objectives of the Biodiversity Park, he said, “Realisation of threats to local flora and fauna, the EPD planned 12 biodiversity parks all over Punjab in 2009, but due to shortage of funds development work was started only on four parks of Cholistan-Bahawalpur, Kasur, DG Khan and Murree at a cost of Rs 184.5 million.”

“The EDP and CDA have jointly been working on this biodiversity project for the last four years in the hope for natural habitat to creepy-crawly. The native plants and species will be conserved in the park for future generations by a method of captive breading,” an EPD official told to media.

Tahir said the work on biodiversity parks in Kasur, on 26 acres, and DG Khan, on 17 acres, have been completed while the Muree park, which is on 40 acres, will be completed next year. He said experts of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are engaged for guidelines at Murree Park, which will be a wonderful Biodiversity Park of Pakistan. “More parks for biodiversity will be developed in Rawalpindi, Multan, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Jhleum, Pakpattan, Rajanpur and Faisalabad,” the EPD official said.

EPD biodiversity project In-charge Amber Naqvi told media that land for parks was provided by respective district governments and once the parks were developed, the task of maintenance and supervision would also be handed over to the respective district governments which might place tickets for visitors. She said university students would come to the biodiversity parks for research whereas projects of captive breeding of the native trees, plants vegetation, insects and reptiles will be started so that the nature and its treasures may be saved for future generations.

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