As the world works towards a more sustainable future for all citizens, the need for infrastructure services continues to grow. While essential for growth and development, infrastructure development is associated with direct and indirect consequences on the environment and people, including land erosion and degradation, air and water pollution, disruption of local hydrology, habitat loss and fragmentation, unsustainable tourism leading to waste management issues, potential increase in illegal wildlife trade from access to pristine and previously inaccessible areas and landscapes and potential associated zoonotic spillover, all generating potential adverse impacts on local communities. 


Within the various forms of infrastructure development, linear infrastructure, including roads, rail, power lines, etc., has been identified as one of the most impactful drivers of biodiversity loss around the world.

© WWF-Pakistan

In Pakistan, more than 3,500 km of roads and 2,000 km of rails are planned. This provides a critical opportunity for WWF to influence the design, planning, and construction phases of the projects, with the aim to achieve sustainable, resilient, equitable, and inclusive infrastructure development that centralizes the need for and importance of conserving nature and biodiversity.

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WWF-Pakistan’s preliminary research shows that three-quarters of Pakistan’s ecologically protected zones and regions that have a high biodiversity and conservation value will be directly and/or indirectly impacted by infrastructure development, overlapping with the habitats of 265 threatened species, and 1,739 Key Biodiversity Areas.


While large-scale linear infrastructure projects will provide short-term economic uplift for the local communities, they may potentially lead to an acceleration of the climate change impacts being experienced therein. At the same time, there is an unmet demand for access to high-quality, safe, and resilient linear infrastructure critical to bringing millions out of poverty through improved access to markets and increased connectivity.

What is WWF doing?

Our Sustainable Infrastructure initiative seeks to maintain a balance between protecting nature and biodiversity and ensuring that our work does not impede the development and growth needs of the local communities. We are working to integrate biodiversity considerations in the design, planning, construction and delivery of linear infrastructure development.

We are leveraging our experience and expertise to shift the way infrastructure is built and operated through:

  • Conducting relevant studies to gauge impacts of linear infrastructure development on nature and biodiversity, with a focus on key priority species such as the snow leopard (Panthera uncia);
  • Using the information collated to provide data driven recommendations to government stakeholders on the planning, design, and execution of linear infrastructure development;
  • Working towards the adoption of best practices, with a focus on biodiversity considerations, in national policies and legislations for all stages of infrastructure development;
  • Streamlining national policies and practices, through collaboration with key stakeholders, and establishing best practices to set national standards and targets. This involves influencing decision-makers to adopt sustainable approaches, thereby paving the way for more environmentally friendly and resilient infrastructure development in Pakistan; and
  • Advocating for sustainable practices and ensuring that infrastructure projects align with both environmental conservation and community needs.