• By: Muhammad Qeyas
  • Master of Public Policy-Specializing in Climate Change
    (Universitas Islam Internasional Indonesia (UIII).

Pakistan, a country blessed with diverse ecosystems and rich wildlife, stands at a crossroads in the conservation of its natural heritage. In particular, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province is home to a myriad of flora and fauna, including endangered species like the snow leopard and the brown bear. However, the region faces significant challenges in preserving its animal biodiversity, ranging from the impacts of climate change to ineffective management of protected areas.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has a broad range of severe weather conditions. The northern part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are very cold and snowy seasons. Moreover, it experiences substantial rainfall and lovely summer. Furthermore, the part which is situated on the south side of KP observe winter for a very short period and summer usually hotter. Moreover, precipitation and temperature has a key role to affect the environment, and due to this, it provide home for several birds living in jungles, mammals and insects creatures.
Many plant kinds are not able to adjust to speedy Climate Changes. The same is real for mammals. Additionally, changes in ecologies can trigger modifications in animal nursing patterns, weakening them and ultimately leading to extinction (IPCC, 2021).
In Pakistan, total 100 species were identified as endemic, then 90% species are living in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The Himalayan range and subhumid jungles of KP are home to 7 bird species and 12 internationally endangered endemic species. Mountainous areas are therefore more vulnerable to the damage of biodiversity carried on by climate change.

  • Understanding the Context:

The biodiversity of KP Province is intricately linked to its geographical diversity, which spans from the towering Himalayan peaks in the north to the fertile plains in the south. This varied landscape supports a wide range of habitats and species, making it a hotspot for biological diversity. However, this richness is under threat from various factors, including climate change, habitat loss, and unsustainable human activities.

  • Khyber Pakhtunkhwa biodiversity and Threats:

The biodiversity of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Province is seriously threatened by several issues which includes, hunting, non-sustainable farming practices, soil erosion, salinity, and water logging, deforestation and overgrazing. Though, it is predicted that, after changes in land use, climate change will be the main reason of biodiversity loss in the future.
Several endangered species are identified in the province. Lion eared bat, ibex, the snow leopard and the brown bear are found the endangered species. Moreover, there is 456 birds species, 56 reptiles species and more than 4500 types of plants are present in this province. (EPA, Govt. of KP).

The biodiversity of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comprises a vast variety of habitats and species and provide a multitude of ecosystem services, including the facility of fresh water, regulating the climate, constraining soil attrition, controlling surface overflow and offering bio-resources. Different steps has been taken to combat the issues of climate change and threats to biodiversity but only in relation of administration of safeguarded parts or the conservation of fauna and flora in their natural state.

  • Status of protected areas:

KP Province contains two wildlife refuges, 8 wildlife parks, 38 game reserves, 22 private game reserves, 90 community game reserves, 3 wildlife sanctuaries, and six national parks
Variation in rainfall patterns, natural disasters and uprising temperature creating changes in both native and migratory fauna and flora. Land degradation transported on by extreme weather actions, natural hazards, and soil erosion that shrinks soil fertility and agricultural efficiency, Water quality and quantity changes in inland freshwaters, vegetation degradation in watersheds are included.
The protected areas, every year, a wide range of migratory species visit zones such as game reserves and wildlife sanctuaries concealing more than 1.05 million hectares. These areas oppose similar risks to migratory species’ existence, such as climate change.

  • Challenges to Conservation

Climate change poses a significant threat to the biodiversity of KP Province. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns can disrupt ecosystems, leading to shifts in species distributions and loss of habitat. Moreover, extreme weather events such as floods and droughts can further exacerbate these impacts, putting additional pressure on vulnerable species. In addition to climate change, ineffective management of protected areas presents a significant challenge to conservation efforts in KP Province. Despite the presence of wildlife refuges, parks, and reserves, many of these areas suffer from inadequate resources, lack of enforcement, and encroachment from human activities. This compromises their ability to serve as effective sanctuaries for endangered species.

  • Proposed Solutions:

Addressing the challenges facing animal biodiversity conservation in KP Province requires a multifaceted approach that integrates scientific research, community engagement, and policy reform.

  • Enhanced Policy Framework:

KP Province should prioritize the upgrade of policies related to climate change, aligning them with scientific findings and global frameworks such as the IPCC reports. This includes implementing adaptation and mitigation strategies to minimize the impacts of climate change on wildlife habitats.
Community Engagement: Empowering local communities to participate in conservation efforts is crucial for long-term success. Additionally, by incorporating local information and perspectives into conservation decision-making processes, community commitment is fundamental to guaranteeing the usefulness of conservation activities and indorsing social fairness. This can be achieved through initiatives such as community-based conservation programs, which involve local residents in decision-making processes and provide them with incentives to protect natural resources.

  • Improved Management of Protected Areas:

Strengthening the management of protected areas is essential for preserving animal biodiversity. This includes enhancing enforcement measures, investing in infrastructure and resources, and developing sustainable ecotourism programs that generate revenue for conservation efforts.
Partnerships with the Private Sector: Collaborating with the private sector, particularly companies with expertise in conservation and sustainable resource management, can provide additional resources and expertise to support conservation initiatives. This can include funding for research projects, technical assistance, and innovative solutions for habitat restoration.
Policy Reform: Reforming existing policies and regulations related to protected areas is essential to address the root causes of biodiversity loss. This includes updating laws to strengthen enforcement mechanisms, establishing clear guidelines for resource use within protected areas, and promoting sustainable land management practices.
Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity conservation among the general public is critical for garnering support for conservation efforts. This can be achieved through educational campaigns, outreach programs, and partnerships with schools and universities.

  • Conclusion:

In conclusion, the preservation of animal diversity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province is confronted with complicated obstacles that are made worse by the results of climate change and insufficient management of protected areas. The preservation of already-existing protected areas must be given top priority in order to efficiently address these complications, with an emphasis on community involvement and sustainable resource controlling practices. There is a crucial need to take practical steps, like creating community usage rights and benefit-sharing arrangements, as the threat of denotification of national parks grows. Moreover, creating efficient adaptation and mitigation plans needs modernizing climate change policies in light of the most recent scientific discoveries. Lastly, applying community-based conservation methods like to those seen in North America inspires sustainable resource management practices while allowing local communities to vigorously engage in conservation plans. By doing these things, we may contribute to the long- term existence of the various nature species and habitats found in KP Province, protecting them for coming generations.

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