Ayubia National Park, part of the Western Himalayan Ecoregion, is one of 200 WWF designated ecoregions of global significance. From the common leopard, red fox and the rare woolly flying squirrel to over 200 species of birds, the park is a home to extraordinary biodiversity.
The Western Himalayas Ecoregion is also the catchment area of the Indus River, which provides 70 to 80 per cent water from the melting of snow and glaciers. However, soil erosion in this area was high, and watershed management was critical for the conservation of this ecoregion. Therefore, to improve the sustained flow of clean water in springs and streams and to conserve the biodiversity the area, WWF Pakistan initiated a project in 2008, which ran for over a decade.
WWF-Pakistan's intervention has replenished over 200 million litres of water in Ayubia National Park.
Impacts of the interventions
Over the years, WWF was able to introduce several suitable land-use management practices that enhanced quality and quantity of freshwater, conserved natural habitats and improved local livelihoods. The critical slopes around the park were stabilized and management of storm water was significantly upgraded. WWF also carried out block plantation, built enclosures through fencing for natural regeneration of forests and planted over 30,000 trees, which aided in replenishing over 200 million liters of water per annum into the hydrological system of the region.
WWF was also able to involve communities through community-based organization and established nature clubs in various schools. Prior to WWF’s efforts, the communities were aggressively cutting trees to meet their firewood needs, however, through awareness raising sessions and provision of alternate livelihood options, the communities not only stopped damaging the environment but also got actively involved in afforestation around the park. Students were also trained to become custodians of the park’s natural heritage and guided tourists about the park and its biodiversity.