Balochistan as a tourist destination

My editorial for Balochistan Times on 27 May, 2019

Pakistan has a wide variety of ecosystems and habitats that host broad diversity of species. Preservation of biodiversity of any country falls within the purview of the government and as such governments involve communities and non-governmental organizations to help maintain the august job. Many natural bio-diverse areas are declared protected areas by the governments so that species in them are protected from excessive hunting and becoming extinct. In such areas the human occupation or at least the exploitation of the resources is limited.

In Pakistan the protected areas are of four kinds which include National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, game reserves and community controlled areas. There are as many as 29 National Parks in Pakistan while 99 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 102 Game Reserves and 76 Community Controlled Hunting Areas. When it comes to Balochistan there are two national parks which include Hingol National Park and the Chiltan National Park and as many as 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries which include Astola or locally known as Haft Talar Island, Hub River, Jiwani Coastal Wetland and Miani Hor among others. The game reserves in any country are kept for trophy hunting where a particular species controlled hunting is announced by the concerned quarters to generate revenue.

In Balochistan, Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani also retains the president-ship of Balochistan Wildlife Council and in this regard he chaired a meeting the other day. He stressed the need for involving community and non-governmental organizations to maintain the conservation of the protected areas like Hazarganji and Hingol National Park and also bio-sphere reserves of Balochistan such as Ziarat and Harboi Juniper Forests. Trophy hunting in the area such as Takatu and Shaban were also discussed in the meeting.

Whereas preservation of wildlife and their natural habitats is essential to maintain diversity of the ecosystems and natural beauty of this land, calculated trophy hunting of prized animals that are found in Balochistan can also bring huge revenue to the provincial ex-chequer. Moreover, preservation of assets like juniper forests of Balochistan, rightly called the living fossils, on account of their slow growth can also be a major revenue generating source as many in the world are keen to see the thousands years old trees which are also declared biosphere reserve by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Biosphere reserves are areas comprising terrestrial, marine and coastal ecosystems. Each reserve promotes solutions reconciling the conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.

Biosphere reserves are ‘Science for Sustainability support sites’ – special places for testing interdisciplinary approaches to understanding and managing changes and interactions between social and ecological systems, including conflict prevention and management of biodiversity.

Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani also directed all the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to make proper arrangements at all tourist resorts for the promotion of tourism in the province. It was in fact a much needed direction by the Chief Minister as Balochistan has a wide range of tourist resorts and natural scenic places where facilities could be provided and a large revenue could be earned to boost up the provincial economy. Currently places like Hanna Jheel and Hanna Urak, and countless picnic points at Bolan which are accessible from the provincial capital and where families can go for some outing lack even the basic facilities such as washrooms, benches, proper security arrangements and shadowy places for sitting and proper eateries.

Balochistan can be turned into one of the best tourist destinations and huge amounts of revenue could be generated from the tourism industry if the government is really serious in developing all the tourist resorts with international standards.

 

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